OECD: Give adults free lifelong learning in key sectors

Adult learners studying courses in 'shortage occupations' should be entitled to waivers of their loan repayments, the OECD says

Will Martin

FE pay: Teachers in FE colleges are experts - and deserve to be paid as such, writes Sam Jones

The government should waive adult learner loans for students on courses in key sectors to make them more attractive, a new report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) suggests.

According to the organisations’s Getting Skills Right: United Kingdom report,  published today, the repayment of advanced learner loans should be scrapped in “shortage occupations” – such as in health and engineering – while “stronger incentives" including personal learning accounts could be introduced to encourage more learners to study courses in key areas.

Last month, figures from the Department for Education revealed that applications for advanced learner loans from students aged 24 and above fell by 10 per cent between 2015-16 and 2016-17.

Training levy

The report also recommends that the government makes "the business case” for the apprenticeship levy by showing employers examples of "where it has led to high return on investment", and suggests that the apprenticeship levy should be renamed the “training levy”, so that employers don’t dilute the apprenticeship brand by using the levy for general training.

"Unless employers are convinced that low levels of training are a problem, incentives to encourage more training are unlikely to lead to new training activities, the report states.

The report also suggests that employers offering careers advice in schools should be a "cornerstone" of schools’ careers information, advice and guidance strategies, and that “data portals”, such as the National Career Service website, should be included in the school curriculum.

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