Last updated: 29.09.14

The UK needs an adult skills revolution, says NIACE

Last Wednesday (September 24th), Ed Miliband confirmed to the audience at the Labour Party Conference that if he became the next prime minister he would match the number of young people in apprenticeships to those in higher education.

Although the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) warmly welcomed the commitments made by the Labour Party leader, it stressed the importance of an adult skills revolution, as well as a change to apprenticeship schemes.

In response to Mr Miliband’s pledge, chief executive of NIACE David Hughes said there needs to be a change in culture, as well as the learning and skills system, if the future of the economy is to be secured.

He commented: “It is great to hear the leader of the opposition focusing on skills and learning as critical issues for our country, for sustained and fair economic growth and to address inequalities.

“We support those ambitions and the belief that a better skills system which stretches and motivates every young person is vital. But we don't only need an apprenticeships revolution; we need an adult skills revolution as well.”

He added that NIACE wants to tackle low pay and secure the future growth of the UK’s economy. Mr Hughes believes that fundamental changes need to be made in order to achieve this and he feels that the government needs to make a commitment to support true lifelong learning.

The chief executive said his organisation is determined to give everyone a “shot in life”, not just young people on the cusp of their educational career. He added that reforms are desperately needed to “unlocks the talents of all”, rather than just limiting the reforms to apprenticeship schemes.

NIACE are calling for the government to create a new dynamic skills system that is “fit for the 21st century” and gives all those living in the UK the opportunity to improve their skills to help them find fulfilling careers.

“This will not only tackle the cost of living crisis and low wages but also ensure that we secure the future for the economy and society,” he concluded.