Lib Dem proposals to tackle adult skills crisis revealed

6 October 2014

Responding to Vince Cable’s speech at the Liberal Democrat Conference, David Hughes, Chief Executive of NIACE, said:

“Vince Cable has made important commitments today regarding the lifelong learning opportunities for adults. Whilst he has continued the focus on Apprenticeships during this Party Conference season in his proposals to increase apprentice pay by £1 an hour, he has extended that in committing to increase the number of ‘degree-level Apprenticeships’. I am pleased though that he has gone even further in his understanding of how critical lifelong learning is for our future economic recovery.

“He echoed our Manifesto call for more people to have access to high-quality opportunities to improve their skills to much higher levels than are currently being accessed. With 13.5 million vacancies anticipated over the next 10 years and only 7 million young people entering the labour market, it is absolutely essential that these opportunities are available for people at all ages.

“Vince Cable’s commitment to an expansion in informal and community learning, especially for those with mental health issues, will have a huge impact, particularly for those who are the most reluctant learners. As we have stressed in our Manifesto – we believe that the next Government needs to put more emphasis on informal, non-formal, as well as formal learning to enable people to gain economically and socially useful skills. Learning in the community, flexibly, in times and places that work for local people can, and does, have an enormous impact. It helps people rebuild their confidence and leads on to further learning and stronger ambitions for their future as well as for their family and friends. This is often a vital process in helping to break low levels of literacy and numeracy, most recently highlighted by the recent BIS Select Committee report.

“We need an adult skills revolution to ensure a vibrant and dynamic future economy that will deliver prosperity for all. Today’s statements will go some of the way to ensuring we have a skills system fit for the 21st Century.”