A plan for an adult skills and lifelong learning revolution: Government Response to the Committee’s Third Report


WEA Statement

In December 2020, the Education Select Committee published its report, A Plan for an Adult Skills and Lifelong Learning Revolution. This was the output from an inquiry that had been ongoing for some time (interrupted by the 2019 General Election). The WEA gave evidence to the Committee as did several of our closest sector colleagues (including the Institutes for Adult Learning and Holex).

The final report – as the “revolution” in the title suggests – was quite wide-ranging and ambitious. Unfortunately the report landed just before Christmas, which would have limited its readership in any year but coinciding with the return to lockdown it meant that the report was seen by far fewer than it deserved.

It is conventional for the Government to respond to the recommendations in Select Committee reports and last Friday (12 March) we saw the publication of the response to the this particular one.

The full response can be read here.

As one might expect, the response is much more guarded than the ambitions expressed in the Committee’s report.

Essentially the response refers back to the recently published Skills for Jobs White Paper and anything out of scope of that is knocked back. There are no new commitments in the Government response, though if you are interested in seeing a comprehensive overview of the Government’s current position, this response is the place to go as it brings everything together in one place.

The Committee’s recommendations to the Government to reinstate the Union Learning Fund or to introduce funding to allow HE students to take “equivalent or lower qualifications” were unsuccessful. Similarly, “there are no plans to devolve careers budgets”.

Elsewhere the response helpfully reiterates a number of upcoming consultations and initiatives which fall out of the Skills White Paper:

  • The Government plans to consult on the National Skills Fund in Spring 2021 

  • “[A consultation on funding and accountability] will explore how funding can be allocated in a simpler way and will explore how providers should be held accountable for the outcomes achieved with that funding to ensure value for money for the taxpayer, while maintaining autonomy and reducing administrative burdens”.

  • Government will consult on the detail and scope of the Lifelong Loan Entitlement this year

Most crucially:

  • Funding beyond 2021–22 will be considered as part of a wider Spending Review later this year which will include full costings.

The WEA will take a very keen interest in all of those consultations and we will keep you up to date on our responses here and on social media.