From education to employment

FE News speaks to Professor David Melville

Speaking from my perspective as Chair of LLUK, I welcome the report. We would see a very important role in the report for the Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) and growing influence there. Lifelong Learning UK has a particular position, because of course we are responsible for the skills of those who teach skills, throughout all the skills areas. We obviously see this as very important.

I think the promises of clarification of what you might call the “landscape”, in terms of funding, is similarly welcome.

I don”t have any major concerns with the report’s main recommendations. I think the new targets are particularly positive; if you take them across the board, I am pleased that Leitch has made a comment about basic skills, Level 2, 3 and also Level 4 and above, in the sense that the whole picture is important. There’s been a danger in the past that one level is pitched against another; I think what he has done is indicated that we need to focus on the full range of levels and skills in the workforce.

I particularly welcome the idea of a new higher education target, for example, which looks at the proportion of graduates in the workforce and people educated to Level 4. I think as far as further education is concerned, clearly, the implications for the Learning and Skills Council are not spelt out, but what we would all like to see is perhaps more clarity in support for what you call adult skills funding. He offers that to new organisations, but it is important that it doesn”t just add further organisations to the overall picture; that it does lead to simplification.

[On UCU claims that funding drives short-term needs of employers]

I don”t think Leitch is suggesting that short-term needs of employers are the issue. What he is suggesting is that the SSCs take a much broader view of skills and that this is done on a national level. I think it would be a mistake if the intention was simply that this is about individual employers driving things, but rather that we do need an overall strategy for skills, and the colleges will be a part of the input.

I think the difference is that the report is a coherent view across the board, for the first time. We”ve had government skills White Papers and so forth, but they haven”t tackled the whole set of issues, and I think there is some coherence in this.

Also, taking a Treasury view, I think there is distinct value in the report, because he looks at it from the point of view of the UK economy, as a whole. This is looking on a global perspective and there really are some ambitious targets. They go well beyond current targets, in some cases doubling progress. I think it is a radical view.

Professor David Melville, Chair [Lifelong Learning UK], Chairman of the University of Kent.

Related FE News articles:

“It Is An Enormous Opportunity” – 06/12/06

“Dont Give Employers Taxpayers Money” – 06/12/06

Concerns Over Leitch Report – 06/12/06

“Weve Still Got A Way To Go” – 06/12/06

Breaking News – Lord Leitchs Final Report Published – 05/12/06

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