We advocate a learning balance

5th June 2009 at 01:00

Sion Simon's suggestion (Letters, May 22) that Niace wants the Government to abandon its Skills Strategy could not be further from the truth. We do believe in strengthening the skills of people in work. The issue is one of balance.

The Government has undertaken a great shift in post-19 funding since 2005, away from courses openly offered to the public towards provision arranged with employers' support. One result is that large numbers of adults in work have gained qualifications.

As the 2009 Niace survey, Narrowing Participation, makes clear, the price for this welcome gain has been paid by larger numbers of poorer, and unqualified, adults, many of whom are not at work and many others are working for unsympathetic employers.

Niace believes we need all the investment in workplace learning that we have now, but that employers should pay a higher share than they do now. That would release government funding for investment in learning for community cohesion, well-being, intergenerational solidarity and active ageing, which are all just as important as economic skills at a time of recession.

Alan Tuckett, Chief executive, National Institute of Adult Continuing Education.

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