A “major” independent commission on lifelong learning has been launched by Vince Cable.
The commission is designed to investigate the “best ways” to make sure adults have “access to learning and retraining throughout their lives”.
It will consider “bold ideas” such as individual learning accounts, which “could offer adults a pot of money to be used to pay for upskilling and retraining opportunities, ensuring people are able to stay up-to-date with technological advances and changes in the job market”.
The commission will also consider other options to increase access to FE, online learning, part-time study and retraining services.
It will be chaired by Rajay Naik, the chief executive of Keypath Education and a former director of the Open University.
Ensuring people can retrain for new industries throughout their life is critically important
“We recognise that fast-paced economic and technological change will have a real impact on the job market in future,” said the Liberal Democrat leader, a former minister for business, innovation and skills.
“People could find themselves having to retrain and change career several times through their working lives, as industries evolve with developments in automation and AI.
“We embrace innovation and the positive changes technology can bring. But we also know that this can cause real concern to people who may see their jobs change dramatically over the course of their careers.”
Membership and timescales will be announced over the coming weeks, and a formal consultation process is due to begin “shortly thereafter”.
“Rajay Naik brings exceptional national and international expertise in higher and further education,” Mr Cable continued.
“I know that he and his team will be working hard to bring forward creative, costed and ambitious proposals to ensure that our workforce is resilient in the face of major change, and that we offer opportunities for people to retrain and upskill throughout their lives.”
Mr Naik has served on the National Careers Council, the Digital Skills Commission, the Learning and Skills Council and the UK-ASEAN Business Council.
“Ensuring that all people have the skills to thrive in the modern world, and can retrain for new industries throughout their life, is critically important to our nation’s competitiveness,” he said about the commission’s launch.
“I very much looking forward to hearing the views of experts, organisations and citizens across the country, and bringing forward recommendations which enable more people to work, earn and learn.”
The commission was created after the government announced plans to launch a National Retraining Scheme in the autumn budget, when the chancellor Philip Hammond earmarked £64 million for pilots.
£30 million will be invested to test the use of artificial intelligence and innovative education technology in online digital skills courses.
Meanwhile, £34 million was pledged to expand “innovative” construction training programmes, to train people as groundworkers, bricklayers, roofers and plasterers.