The Importance of Inclusive Lifelong Learning
We all experience change and the need to adapt in our lives, but the current uncertainty we are all experiencing makes the need for a responsive and agile workforce even more important. This is a challenge that we must embrace as educationalists, many adults continue to face barriers posed by their basic skills with even more lacking strong digital literacy. In my many meetings with employers I hear of skills gaps widening and employers struggling to recruit in many roles. Locally there is a huge demand for technology experts to help our local economy reap the benefits of digital transformation.
The recent publication of the Post-18 Review of Education and Funding highlights the requirement to balance the needs, aspirations and opportunities for every adult and proposes changes for skills training which are vital to set the country up for the future. As the Principal of your local college, I welcomed the recognition of the vital role of further education colleges, a proposed boost to intermediate level skills funding and new rights for all adults to be able to get the support they need to progress in learning.
As someone who returned to learning slightly later in life after rebelling against the ‘traditional school system’ I have always valued the role that colleges play in offering adults the opportunity to change careers, retrain, plug qualification gaps, fulfil their potential and achieve their aspirations. This opportunity was life changing for me and set me firmly on the path to finding what I was capable of, stretching myself and ultimately doing a job that I love every day in serving my local community.
As a district and a country, we need a diverse and thriving post-18 education sector, led by universities and colleges, working closely with employers and communities. I hope we can collaboratively build that system, supporting everyone throughout their lives.