Calls grow for Royal Commission on future of learning and skills

7 October 2014

The Liberal Democrats have announced that they will be working with NIACE as part of their proposed strategy for an ‘Age Ready Britain’.

In their policy document, Age Ready Britain, the Liberal Democrats have set out their proposals and policies for the ageing population. In one of their commitments they state:

“Extending people’s working lives requires planning, preparation and management by them and their employers to enable them to achieve the full financial and wellbeing benefits. In Government we have supported the National Institute for Adult and Continuing Education (NIACE) to pilot mid-life career review. We will work with NIACE, employers and employees organisations and the National Careers Service to roll out and promote mid-life career reviews.”

Access to career reviews is one of six priority actions for the next Government which NIACE has identified in its Manifesto – Skills for Prosperity – as essential to guarantee a skills-led recovery which will benefit everyone.

Today’s announcement follows the backing of another NIACE priority action for the next Government to conduct a major, independent review into the long-term skills needs and funding issues facing the UK over the next 20 years. The establishment of this Royal Commission received backing from the CBI, NUS, Centre Forum and Baroness Sal Brinton, member of the Liberal Democrats Manifesto Working Group, at a NIACE fringe meeting, held with the AoC and the 157 Group. The participants urge all the political parties to support this Royal Commission which could set out a long-term vision for lifelong learning, including for schools, FE, HE, the workplace and beyond.

The Liberal Democrats have also, today, voted to accept their pre-manifesto which includes an important over-arching commitment to support lifelong learning for all.

David Hughes, Chief Executive of NIACE, said:

“Today’s developments – and those announced by Vince Cable yesterday – will help to secure a skills system fit for the 21st Century. The UK economy is growing again but faces an uncertain future. Not least because of our ageing society and the fact that over the next 10 years there are anticipated to be almost two job vacancies for every new person entering the labour market. That means we will all have to work for longer and it’s critical that we ensure these are fulfilling and dynamic careers. The pilot stage of the Mid-life Career Reviews proved that a simple and relatively cheap intervention can provide the right information and confidence people need to take more control of their work and life situation. The challenge that the Liberal Democrats appreciate is that learning needs to flexible to meet demands at all ages and stages of life.

“Calls are now also growing for our manifesto-proposal for an independent cross party commission to become a Royal Commission on learning and skills after the 2015 election. We support those calls and stand ready to help any future Government make the work of that Royal Commission a success.”