David Willett, Corporate Director at The Open University

OU backs CBI report on need to kickstart lifelong learning

The Open University (OU) has given its backing to a new hard-hitting report issued today (Tuesday 29th October) by the CBI on the need to revitalise lifelong learning.

The report "An upskill battle: the importance of lifelong learning in a modern economy highlights the importance and challenges firms have in order to upskill and retrain their employees. It argues for adult education to be at the top of the political agenda and recommends closer collaboration between business and Government.

The OU’s popular free learning platform OpenLearn is cited within the report as an example of how employees can draw on  “passporting” skills and qualifications to study alongside their work. The report calls for improved transparency on Apprenticeship Levy money and using apprenticeships.

It also echoes key findings of The Open University Business Barometer 2019 concerning improving the clarity for employees of internal development routes and opening up all new vacancies to internal applicants as a default.

David Willett, Corporate Director at The Open University, said:

“The Open University endorses this report. We welcome the economic and social imperative it makes for cross UK government investment in a lifelong learning strategy to support upskilling and reskilling.  Flexible learning delivered through flexible means must be at the heart of this initiative to give employers and employees what they want, and the productivity boost that the country needs.”

The Open University believes economic success in the coming years depends on embedding a lifelong learning culture which rests on three co-equal pillars:

  1. Flexible lifetime learning opportunities
  2. Apprenticeships, and
  3. Full-time study (whether FE and/or HE)

To achieve a sustainable supply of skills with the flexibility needed to meet the ever-evolving needs of UK business, industry, and the public sector, the UK must maximise the potential of its existing workforce. We support the recognition of lifelong learning, but this needs to be based on funding and policies that are affordable, flexible; and delivered in partnership. 

The OU’s OpenLearn platform launched in 2006 and in that time has seen visitor numbers reach 67 million. It’s free learning offer includes a range of Badged Open Courses on a number of subjects and professional competencies essential for a modern workplace, which are used by many as a pre-cursor to more formal study or for continuous learning.

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