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ERIC Number: EJ871041
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jan
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0955-2308
Know Your Place
Wolf, Alison
Adults Learning, v20 n5 p8-11 Jan 2009
The virtues of "lifelong learning" may trip off every minister's tongue, and launch countless speeches, but the only sorts of adult learning which actually have legitimacy, or are seen as deserving of support, are those which make people do their current jobs better. "Skills" rule, and the skills in question are narrowly defined, and vocational in the most short-term and immediate fashion. In the last few years, there has been a dramatic increase in the proportion of the adult education and training budget dedicated to "employer-based" expenditure. Current government expenditure plans mean that between 2006 and 2010, and excluding apprenticeships, the proportion of the adult budget directed through employers is set to more than double. In practice, this means more money for Train to Gain--a programme for workplace-based training, leading to formal qualifications, which does not involve much learning at all. As a number of the leading private providers explained to a House of Commons select committee last year, funding levels cover the costs of certifying people for skills they already hold, but not much else. The Government's mind-set is very clear. Top priority must go to "workplace skills", the skills that people are practising and using now, in their current workplace--because, otherwise, they will not meet employers' immediate needs. So it is through the employer, rather than as an individual, that people gain access to Train to Gain funding: it is the employer who contacts, or is contacted, by providers, the employer who negotiates, the employer who is the intended beneficiary. The recent launch of the "Skills Funding Agency" confirms the approach. According to the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills' (DIUS) launch documents, the reorganisation is designed to provide ""more" young people and adults with the skills "employers" need". One result of recent funding patterns has been a very sharp drop in the number of adult learners, and the closing of large swathes of adult education provision. In this article, the author contends that if people want to stop, and reverse, the destruction of adult education perhaps they have to start here; with the mysterious fact that the concept of education is more narrow and impoverished than any previous generation. Change that, and the rest will follow.
National Institute of Adult Continuing Education. Renaissance House, 20 Princess Road West, Leicester, LE1 6TP, UK. Tel: +44-1162-044200; Fax: +44-1162-044262; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Adult Education; Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom