Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrat Shadow Education Secretary

The economy is changing fast but successive governments have not prepared people for the challenges ahead.

As technology improves and our population ages, almost half of workers today will have to retrain in their lifetime.

Business leaders tell us that too few workers have the skills our future economy needs.

You would think that addressing these economic challenges would be central to any political party’s manifesto.

But instead, the Conservatives and Labour will fight this election justifying the economic damage they will do with their competing versions of Brexit.

By contrast, Liberal Democrats will stop Brexit altogether and invest in our public services.

But we also want to build a brighter future by tackling these longer-term economic challenges too.

That’s why our former leader, Sir Vince Cable, created an Independent Commission on Lifelong Learning.

It would consider how we can remove the barriers that stop people getting the education, skills and training they will need to thrive in the future economy and take the next step on the career ladder.

The Commission concluded that Skills Wallets are part of the solution – and I agree!

Giving people the power to decide what, how and when they earn

Under our proposals, every adult in England would be given an online Skills Wallet, giving people the power to decide what, how and when they earn:

  • Central government would top it up over a person’s lifetime: £4,000 at age 25, and then £3,000 at ages 40 and 55.
  • Local government would add money to support people on low incomes or to incentivise education in their area.
  • Employers could offer top-ups as a workplace benefit.
  • Learners themselves could also save.

Then, learners aged 25 or over could spend the money on an education or training programme of their choice – at any level, no matter what they’ve previously studied.

Study one module or an entire course – the choice is up to you.

Free Careers Guidance

Learners would be given free careers guidance to help them pick a course that will meet their personal or career development aims, and the Office for Students would be given an expanded remit to monitor course quality.

This is a matter of fairness. Anyone could need to go back to education, to change careers, get a promotion or pick up a new hobby.

Giving someone the skills they need to take that next step in their career helps not just that person, but their community and the country.

Liberal Democrats are putting education at the heart of this election campaign, with a plan to provide free childcare, reverse school cuts, invest in colleges and boost the quality and quantity of apprenticeships. Everyone, no matter their age or background, has the right to an education, to learn new skills, nurture creativity and develop their talents.

With Skills Wallets, everyone will have the power to learn new skills and develop existing ones, so that they feel happier, healthier and have the knowledge they need to thrive in the modern economy.

Layla Moran is the Liberal Democrat Shadow Education Secretary

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