My passion for adult learning

For all of us continuing to learn is the life-blood of personal fulfilment and renewed opportunity. I am passionate about this because I was - and still am - an adult learner.

Lifelong learning can offer enormous benefits, for those in work as well as the unemployed. I want to develop a series of opportunities that will appeal to the widest range of people. Everyone should be able to use lifelong learning to develop their careers.

Work is changing and time is increasingly at a premium. The skills and knowledge of our workforce are this country's greatest assets. We need to offer people the opportunities to build on these skills and so help business and encourage people back to learning.

That is why the Government plans to increase the number of places in further and higher education by 500,000 by 2002. We also want to be able to offer basic skills courses to a further 500,000 more men and women to help them improve their English and maths.

I am also working to make lifelong learning much more accessible at work. The innovative University for Industry will allow people to learn in their workplace, at home or through a national network of learning centres.

Learning at work - using a personal computer linked to a college course through an intranet - has already been piloted through a number of successful schemes. Major companies like Ford and Motorola have set up excellent "universities" within their own businesses. These allow employees to learn, including using their own computers to access material, provided as part of the specially designed programme through the UfI.

Pilot schemes have already been set up around the country to test ideas which could be used in the UfI. These trials are being expanded this year through pounds 60m of European money available to fund new ways of making more learning accessible and user-friendly.

Everyone in the country will have a return-to-learning centre in their area by the time the UfI is launched in the year 2000. People will benefit from gaining confidence and skills. This will include busy people who cannot attend a formal course on the same day each week. It will help them to use their computer to access training from the UfI through the Internet.

There are a range of other groups we aim to reach, such as people who are long-term unemployed and women returners. One project in Sunderland has offered courses at Sunderland Football Club's ground and in facilities at the Metro Shopping Centre in Gateshead.

We are examining this pilot and are considering whether these exciting ideas could be used to attract more people across the country. We have also set up a new scheme to support trade unions in developing innovative approaches to encouraging learning in the workplace in partnership with employers.

Our plans for learning accounts - encouraging people to invest in their own learning - will help people to take control of their own careers. They will help people learn who are not currently doing so, and encourage those who have done some learning to do more.

The first million account-holders will each get pounds 150 to spend on learning, provided they make a commitment to save a minimum amount of their own money. The Local Government Association has joined us in a thorough review of discretionary support for the forgotten band of students who do not qualify for a mandatory grant.

My goal is to transform the attitude of people to learning at work. It can make a real difference to their lives and help business to flourish. We can make no better investment in our future.

The writer is the Secretary of State for Education and Employment.

News
people And here is why...
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
Arts and Entertainment
Mystery man: Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in '‘Gone Girl'
films... by the director David Fincher
Life and Style
stoptober... when the patch, gum and cold turkey had all failed
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

LSA Level 3 required in Caerphilly

£50 - £60 per day + plus Travel Scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job: O...

Welsh Year 6 Teacher required in Barry

£100 - £110 per day + Plus travel scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job:...

Welsh Teacher Year 2 required in Caerphilly

£100 - £105 per day + plus Travel Scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job:...

Year 4 Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to work in ...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?