The Liberal Democrats have launched an on-line campaign promoting their strategy for encouraging lifelong learning as one of the latest salvos in the election campaign.
World of work is changing
Unsurprisingly the Lib Dems have identified that the world of work is changing and so must people if they want to be safe in the knowledge that their employment will be sustainable.
In days gone by turning up on time and doing what you were told was enough to make sure that you would be securely resident in your job. But now that is not enough. Nowadays it is important to make sure that your skills and knowledge are keeping up to date with the demands of rapidly changing markets and ways of working.
But as the Lib Dems say in their publicity accessing the training and learning activities that can ensure that skills and knowledge are up to date is expensive, and beyond what many people can afford.
The Liberal Democrats are proposing that everyone should be given a Skills Wallet.
This Skills Wallet would provide every adult with £10,000 to spend on education and training throughout your lives.
The aim of a Skills Wallet is to give every person the opportunity to retrain and up skill to maintain their current job, develop their career or gain the skills and knowledge for work opportunities that haven’t been thought of yet.
Show us the money
Every adult will be entitled to £10,000 to use over their lifetime on up skilling courses and further education. That’ll be divided into £4,000 at 25 years old, £3,000 at 40, and another £3,000 at 55.
On top of this, individuals, employers and local government will be able to pay into the wallets.
Individuals will choose how and when to spend the money – as long as they are buying training from an approved provider.
This will make the skills wallet a valuable resource for every adult for their whole life!
To ensure that the money is spent wisely everyone will be able to access free guidance to help them to decide how to use their Skills Wallet.
That’s how claim the Lib Dems they will know that the investment will help people to gain the skills they will find invaluable in the world of work.
How will it be funded?
The Lib Dems expect providing Skills Wallets £1.9 billion a year in total by 2024-25.
To pay for this, they will reverse the Conservatives’ unnecessary and expensive cuts to Corporation Tax. Instead they will return the rate to the 2016 level of 20%.
This will, claims the Lib Dems, raise £10 billion a year by 2024-25, which they say is more than enough to pay for the Skills Wallets.
Will it work?
Whilst we applaud any attempt to get people more involved in learning throughout their lives history tells us that government led schemes usually fail to achieve the aspirational objectives set by politicians.
There are too many organisations keen to put a lot of work into becoming approved suppliers without similar energies being committed to delivering learning that meets the needs of learners.
Learning at work is often something, despite the best efforts of trainers and employers that people do when the point of needs must is reached.
Who ever wins the up coming general election might find a better policy for achieving active life long learning is to educate workers and employers that if the country is to maintain its status as a leading economic power that companies and their workers must adopt an appetite for constant change and improvement.