Blunkett's vision of the learning age;FE Focus
"Lifelong learning can enable people to play a full part in developing their talent, the potential of their family and the capacity of the community in which they live and work. It can and must nurture a love for learning. This will ensure the means by which our economy can make a successful transition from the industries and services of the past to the knowledge and information economy of the future.
"It is clear that we will not keep pace with the modern economies of our competitors if we are unable to match today's skills with the challenge of the developing information and communications age of tomorrow.
"The challenge is urgent. That is why the Government has given priority to education with more than pound;19 billion of extra resources over three years.
"The vision of the learning age has been welcomed. But many of those who commented confirmed our view that current arrangements provided an insufficient focus on quality, failed to give men and women the support they need and were too provider driven. Above all, there was an acknowledgement of the inconsistency and contradictions in present funding and delivery mechanisms.
"We propose to establish a single national learning and skills council to replace the Further Education Funding Council and the training and enterprise councils. The new council will work alongside a new organisation responsible for advice and support to young people and will be complemented by an independent, rigorous and effective inspection regime.
"We will strengthen the role of business, local authorities, providers and the individual users of service in driving the direction of the new system, through their continuing involvement in local learning partnerships. We seek to ensure that better advice and guidance raises standards and participation among young and old alike, that individuals can make the best of their talent and potential, and employers have a competitive edge in the global economy.
"The new arrangements will encourage coherence, quality and success in meeting targets. This will also stimulate a spirit of self-help, which enriched the lives and raised the aspirations of those who pioneered the movement for full-time education and the drive for access to learning for all. We must place the learner at the heart of the new system.
"I am determined that we build on the best features of what we have at present, while seeking to remove the contradictions, conflict and incoherence which currently exists.
"The task ahead is to modernise the framework for post-16 education and to raise quality. I invite all those involved to work with us, to make this the basis for substantive and lasting change and improvement in the years ahead."