Lifelong learning is a central theme of the College of the Future
Last week, Nelson and Colne and Colne College Group – including Lancashire Adult Learning – marked Lifelong Learning Week, an annual celebration of the value of learning at all stages of life.
It was an inspiring week, and we shared heart-warming stories on our social media channels of adult learners who we have supported to upskill for a new career, helped improve their health and wellbeing, and given them the essential digital skills needed to enable them to stay better connected in the world of laptops, smartphones and tablets.
Lifelong learning is also a central theme to the final report which has just been published by the Independent Commission on the College of the Future, for which I am the Commissioner for all colleges in England.
The report recommends radical, long-term adult learning reforms, as well as investment, to address current and future skills gaps and also to transform life chances for every adult.
It calls for every adult to have the right to lifetime education and training, with colleges better supported to deliver this in every community across the UK. There are few, if any, more important places in the UK where this needs to happen than here in East Lancashire.
Recent research from the CBI found that nine in 10 people will need new skills by 2030 to support the future economy, and that further and faster action is needed. With the consequences of Covid-19, leaving the EU, climate change and the fourth industrial revolution changing the employment landscape, everyone will need access to part-time, adult and vocational education as the economy and jobs change – and we don’t want Lancashire’s adult learners to be left behind.
For a number of years now, the wonderful team at Lancashire Adult Learning – and the wider College Group – have been working hard to support the ambitions and aspirations of our county’s adult learners.
Very recently, we refreshed our adult learning offer to support adults across the county during this unusual time, with a wide range of free online and flexible courses. As we find ourselves in a second lockdown, new courses starting this month can enhance the employment prospects of individuals, help support their family, improve their health and wellbeing, develop their digital skills or simply develop a hobby. I would encourage readers to visit the Lancashire Adult Learning website at www.lal.ac.uk or our social media pages to find out more.
With a UK-wide approach to adult learning following the publication of the Commission report and its recommendations, I really hope that we can make real progress in providing access to lifelong learning to support individuals, towns and the wider economy. Lifelong learning is a vitally important but hitherto neglected component of our education system. I hope very soon I will be able to provide you with a positive update on its place in our UK skills system when the Government publishes its white paper on Further Education in the near future.
Until next month, Amanda.