"I will feel I have failed in my job at the end of five years if we have not tried to turn things round so that every adult feels that learning is a thing for them and that it is a thing that goes on throughout life," she told The TES.
Education and employment minister Lady Blackstone has asked Professor Bob Fryer, principal of Northern College in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, to produce an action plan in time for a White Paper in October.
Lady Blackstone is keen to hear ideas on how schools and adult education centres can be used, and also how workplace training might be enormously expanded. She wants a report on her desk in September.
She said that Professor Fryer's committee of leading figures from the media, business, trade unions, colleges, universities and local authorities - selected by ministers - would be expected to drive policy forward.
"What we want Bob Fryer and his committee to do is think about the whole way he can change the culture," she added.
What she most wants is "exciting" ideas from individuals as well as the submissions from organisations active in adult education.
It is clear that Labour sees adult learning as a priority: the Fryer committee membership has not yet been finalised yet its terms of reference and plea for submissions are already in the public arena.
Full interview FE Focus, page 25