Last updated: 23.03.16

Invest in adult learning, experts urge

The returns on educating a 50-year-old could be as great as teaching a three-year-old, according to Lord David Willetts.

At a ‘Lifelong Learning and the Power to Create' event, Lord Willetts was joined by Lord David Blunkett and former secretary of state at the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, Sir Vince Cable, to promote the importance of investing in adult learning. 

The event was organised by the Learning and Work Institute, alongside the charity RSA, and attracted more than 100 attendees from the adult education sector. The focus on adult learning was welcomed by some, who feel this subject is often overshadowed by schools and university issues. 

David Hughes, chief executive of Learning and Work Institute, commented: “We know that employers need more people with skills and that adults want to be able to learn, but the system is not working well. 

“We’re working, through our Ambition London project, with employers, learning providers and learners to try out new ways to motivate adults to invest in their own learning, for their benefit and to support higher productivity for employers."

He added that the debate brought up some “really important” points when it comes to the learning and work agenda. He noted that Lord Blunkett called for a renewed focus on learning in order to open minds instead of just offering simple training for basic or technical skills. Sir Vince, meanwhile, spoke on the impact of technology and the opportunities it brings for new forms of learning. 

"I’m confident that we established some key points to take to policy makers to support them in raising the profile of lifelong learning,” he added.

During the event, Lord Blunkett, who was education and employment secretary during Tony Blair’s premiership, stated that his green paper on lifelong learning, published 18 years ago, was one of the most important reports he worked on during his career.

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