A BILL promoting paid study leave for workers was presented in the House of Commons.
While it stands no chance of becoming law, the Lifelong Learning (Paid Study Leave) Bill, put forward by Labour MP David Chaytor, will add momentum to his campaign to increase the rights of workers wishing to return to the classroom.
He says too much of post-16 funding is based on the assumption that people are in full-time education, leading to an elitist system. The 10-minute Bill was presented on Wednesday.
In most European countries, workers are now entitled to a least a week of study leave every year.
"British companies have a poor record of investing in workplace training for their mployees. And training is usually geared to highly-skilled workers in professional jobs," said Mr Chaytor.
His remarks echo the concern of John Monks, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress and newly-appointed chairman for the Learning and Skills Council's adult learners' committee, who believes too much training is aimed at "the already-educated".
"Those who would benefit most from training are generally those who can least afford it," said Mr Chaytor. "There's a huge reservoir of untapped talent out there. It's time we gave the opportunity to enhance their skills throughout their working lives.
"Training should be seen as a vital investment in our future."