Learners 'must help fund skills'

22-06-2005

The education secretary says learners and employers must help fund advanced level further education courses. Ruth Kelly told the annual conference of the Learning and Skills Development Agency the government would pay for 14 to 19 learning and basic skills.

These included initial GCSE-level qualifications for adults who had not obtained them at school.

But employers had to contribute to raising skills and it was "only fair" that learners should contribute too.

'Opening doors'

Ms Kelly said the further education (FE) sector was meeting the three challenges of social justice, social mobility and economic prosperity.

"I passionately believe in learning and the doors that it opens - and that these opportunities should not be time-dated," she said.

"I want everyone to have a second or even third or fourth chance."

But there was a "big agenda" which government alone could not fund.

The review of FE being undertaken by Sir Andrew Foster would give a clearer focus and direction, she said.

In his presentation to the conference, Sir Andrew posed a series of questions about the role of further education sector and invited feedback.

"What is the main purpose of FE colleges? That needs to be the starting point. This has not always been as clear as it might be," he said.

He set out a series of principles, including "an assured baseline of quality" and "an end to reorganisation for its own sake".

He expects to publish his report in the autumn.

BBC News

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