"It's the wrong target," professor John Field, of Warwick University, said.
"It amounts to a warehousing of young people who might not be keen, might not get the qualifications they want, and could be socialised into believing that learning has been completed.
"It would be better to expand part-time education, and focus on accessibility, so that people could come back later. Lots of people are in educational institutions which is not the right place for them at that stage," said professor Tom Schuller, of Birkbeck College, University of London.
"In the short term it might raise targets in term of qualifications, but it may turn people off, just as some people are turned off education by their experience of school."
Both professors, speaking at a London conference, were broadly sympathetic to the government's promotion of lifelong learning. But they warned that most present policies, the University for Industry, and the New Deal, emphasised learning in terms of employability. There had to be more stress on its social nature.
Ngaio Crequer fefocus IV FEclassifiedThe best choice of jobs VII-XX The TES lifelong learning section chris thomond The TES lifelong learning section fefocus TESJseptember 10 1999 John SizerNew Scottish FE chief II Havering TribunalProgress report III Michael AustinReassessing the White Paper