From education to employment

Increased and rebalanced investment needed to equip workers with 21st Century skills

Phil Hall, Head of Public Affairs & Public Policy, AAT

AAT backs Centenary Commission on adult education

Today (18 November 2019) the Centenary Commission on Adult Education published its long awaited report on adult education and lifelong learning, “A Permanent National Necessity…”

Many of the 18 recommendations contained within this report have been backed by Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) a professional body with more than 90,000 students, two thirds of whom are aged over 25. 

Following pledges from various political parties last week, this report stimulates much needed debate around adult skills in the UK today and perhaps more importantly, in the future. As the report makes clear, we face a series of social, political, economic, technological and demographic challenges that will require considerable reskilling and upskilling of the existing workforce – so carrying on as we are simply won’t suffice.

“There is a national consensus in favour of adult education and lifelong learning. We need the next government to step up to the challenge, and deliver what is, in the words of today’s report, “A Permanent National Necessity.“” – Centenary Commission Chair, Dame Helen Ghosh, Master of Balliol College, Oxford

AAT is pleased that the report acknowledges it’s not just more investment that’s needed, but rebalanced investment, focusing on those who have previously missed out by providing literacy, numeracy and digital skills.

A pathway for the student to progress is very much what AAT already concentrates on, offering level 2,3 and 4 qualifications that act as stepping stones to both personal and career progression – something that should be replicated across industries and sectors.” 

More Flexible Apprenticeship Levy

With approximately 16,000 apprentices, AAT was one of the first organisations to call for a broader, more flexible apprenticeship levy back in 2016.

AAT therefore welcomes the report’s recommendation of the same. Likewise, the proposal for national information campaigns to encourage lifelong learning is something that AAT has previously called for and would wholeheartedly support because it would inevitably lead to an increase in upskilling and reskilling across all sectors of the British economy.

A lifelong learning account for individuals

Given the significant benefits to individual learners and in turn to employers and the economy, AAT would cautiously back the return of a lifelong learning account.

However, given the appalling manner in which this was last trialled at the turn of the century – tens of millions lost due to fraud and abuse – there must be substantially improved planning and risk management, robust quality assurance and extensive testing and piloting before any national rollout of such a scheme.

Phil Hall, Head of Public Affairs & Public Policy, AAT

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