Apprenticeship scheme should be scrapped and replaced with a ‘lifelong learning levy’, says former schools minister

Former Labour schools minister Lord Knight has called for the education system to be redesigned around a culture of lifelong learning, with radical reform including the replacement of the apprenticeship levy. Tes reports

Speaking during a debate on lifelong learning in the House of Lords yesterday, he said: “We need to convert the apprenticeship levy into a lifelong learning levy that employers, the Exchequer and the employee all pay into and that individuals can draw on through their life for university and for skills training”.

In addition to promoting lifelong learning at schools and universities, “We need a rebooted universal adult skills system that is a mixed economy of public and private providers with a new funding model,” he said.

The country’s approach assumes that adult skills are “something that a small minority may need help with—probably the same people who did not do so well at school,” and is “woefully out of date,” according to the peer.

Lord Knight added: “If the population is to be productive, if we are to be less dependent on migrant skills and if we are to avoid a contagion of disaffection spreading from the rust belt, we need an education system designed around a culture of lifelong learning”.

Baroness Garden, the Liberal Democrat spokeswoman for higher education, further education and skills, said: “People are living and working longer, but training across working lives is going down”.

During the debate, Labour’s shadow education spokesperson, Lord Watson of Invergowrie, argued that “much more needs to be done to facilitate an “earning and learning” framework, because the reality is that, for this and future generations, lifelong and career learning will be an economic necessity”.

Labour “will introduce free lifelong education in FE colleges, enabling everyone to upskill or retrain at any point in their life, which is surely a necessity”.

Read more Apprenticeship scheme should be scrapped and replaced with a ‘lifelong learning levy’, says former schools minister

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