From education to employment

FE heavyweights to debate future

Funding cuts to adult learning have ignited a national debate set to climax next week, in an enquiry represented by 25 leading education organisations.

Organised by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE), the Big Conversation Adult Learning Enquiry Hearing, will be held in Westminster, on Tuesday 19th September 2006.

Raising important questions about the economic and social implications of funding cuts, Alan Tuckett, Director of NIACE and Chair of the Enquiry, said: “The Big Conversation starts from the view that adult learning really matters to the future of our society ““ economically and socially – and asks who should pay and how much should they pay for the chance to learn?”

The host of further education providers and learners attending the event aim to challenge recent cuts in provision, increases in course fees and the loss of hundreds of thousands of opportunities for adult learners.

A dossier of evidence will be presented to the Government to demonstrate the depth of concern about current policy shared throughout educational institutions and the public, further supported by a host of keynote speakers debating what the future settlement for adult learning should be.

“What’s the right balance between community and workplace provision? And between what we spend on young people and on adults? Especially when 2 in 3 of the jobs of the next 10 years must be filled by adults”, Mr Tuckett continued.

Dr John Brennan, AoC Chief Executive, said: “With the current shift in funding priorities and the forthcoming Leitch review of national skills needs, [a] stimulating debate about what the nation needs in the coming years is of critical importance”.

Speaking on behalf of the NUS, Vice President of Further Education, Ellie Russell, highlighted the effect that current funding pressure was having on colleges” ability to delivery quality, accessible education for the entire community.

Professor Brenda Gourley, Vice Chancellor from the Open University, said: “In a knowledge economy, lifelong learning is the key to success, not only at an individual level, but for the success of the country as a whole. This is a really important conversation”.

Leona Baldwin.

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