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Report redefines sector's future

The report of the Inquiry into the Future for Lifelong Learning raises important considerations for our sector. We're delighted that your excellent article ("A case for adult learning in all shapes and sizes", September 18) provided a holistic view of the future of this, and a strategic response to the current changing context.

The report recognises the rich spread of learners, of all ages, who are learning at various levels and in different settings - from colleges through to work-based learning and in the community.

It also emphasises the impact that a more diverse range of learners has on the social and economic benefits of lifelong learning. This involves encouraging greater responsiveness to learners, literacy and numeracy, and the development of a credit-based system, which we are currently undertaking.

The closer link between libraries and FE colleges, proposed in the report, will strengthen important local roles. FE colleges are involved in ongoing collaboration by continuing to reach a wide group of learners and by working with a variety of partners across the lifelong learning sector.

Underpinning our understanding of how this sector is going to be shaped is the importance of workforce data collection - what it means, and how we use it to identify skills gaps and shortages, as well as learners' needs. We welcome the opportunity to contribute to a more intelligent use of research.

Following the report, we look forward to stimulating debate with (adult education body) Niace across the lifelong learning sector, starting with a forthcoming event in Wales for wider employer discussion.

We will continue to support the lifelong learning sector in developing the skills for 21st-century learning professionals, and will be discussing the major issues at our annual conference on December 8.

David Hunter amp; Sir David Melville, Chief executive and chair, Lifelong Learning UK.

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