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Education Committee launches inquiry into adult skills and lifelong learning

10 July 2019

The Education Committee launches inquiry examining the benefits of adult skills and lifelong learning to the individual, society and the wider economy.

The inquiry will also explore the level of support available to learners, and the role played by local authorities/combined authority areas in providing adult education.

The UK spends just two-thirds of the EU average on adult training, while the poorest adults with the lowest qualifications are the least likely to learn new skills. The Education Committee's inquiry will look into how improving adult skills can promote social justice and boost productivity across the country.

Adult skills and lifelong learning should be placed at the centre stage

Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP, Chair of the Education Committee, said:

"Brexit, persistent skills gaps and the onward march of automation should place adult skills and lifelong learning at the centre stage of our education and industrial policy.

Given the changing demands of the future world of work, it's more important than ever that education doesn't just stop at 18 or 21. The educational ladder of opportunity shouldn't terminate abruptly when someone leaves school, college or university. For the benefit of our economy and for the individual, it is vital that learning continues through life, supporting all members of society in improving their levels of skills. Businesses and the third sector can play a key role in driving progress in this area. 

Nearly half of the poorest adults receive no training after leaving school. For too long further education has been a poor relation to other education sectors. While the measures to strengthen FE in the recent Augar review were welcome, these are just the beginning. Our Committee will examine what more can be done to encourage adult skills and life-long learning.

Supporting people to learn new skills, whether as a mature student at university, training at work or attending the local adult education college, will boost the UK's productivity and have a powerful effect on the life prospects of everyone in society, including the disadvantaged."

This inquiry will build on the Committee's work on the fourth industrial revolution, which examined the readiness of the UK's education system for the challenges and opportunities offered by upcoming developments in digital, robotics, AI, and the changing labour market.

Terms of reference

The Committee is inviting written submissions addressing the following questions:

  • What are the benefits of adult skills and lifelong learning (ASALL) for productivity and upskilling the workforce?
  • What are the benefits of ASALL for social justice, health and well-being?
  • What role can local authorities/combined authority areas play in ASALL provision?
  • To what extent is the range, balance and quality of formal and informal ASALL education adequate?
  • Who currently participates in and benefits from lifelong learning?
  • What lessons can the UK learn from abroad?

The deadline for written evidence submissions is Thursday 15 August.

For those wishing to share personal experiences of adult education, the Committee will be running a survey over the summer to gather insights into this area. 

Further information

Image: CCO

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