Series 3, Episode 2 of the Let’s Go Further podcast
Government needs to stop taking such a short term view on further education and instead commit to a long-term national strategy for the sector, according to Dr Fiona Aldridge, Head of Insight – Economic Delivery, Skills and Communities at West Midlands Combined Authority.
Speaking on the latest episode of the Let’s Go Further podcast, Dr Aldridge has called for a national strategy that supports local growth and has regional flexibility and long-term ambition.
When asked about the current lack of strategy in the sector during an interview for the podcast, Dr Aldridge said:
I don’t think we seem to give things long enough… there is an amazing further education skills and adult learning sector, and we have loads of experience and are really up for working with government to make this work. So don’t go away and come up with policy ideas and launch them at us, but really work with us to say how can we make this work?
Dr Aldridge also makes the point that she’d like to see any new government commit to continuing devolution of skills funding in order to maximise flexibility and the ability to align any offer to a specific community’s residents and businesses.
Moving on to speak about the results of the Learning and Work Institute’s annual survey of adult participation in learning, Dr Aldridge notes that it is far from a level playing field:
If you have done well in your initial education, if you’re in a higher social class, if you earn more, if you’ve got higher qualifications, if you’re closer to the labour market, then you are more likely to get good opportunities to carry on learning as an adult. Now, I would like to see everybody have those opportunities.
Dr Aldridge also discusses the need to recognise the importance of learning ‘soft skills’, the growing need for leadership and management capabilities, and the issue of having too many adults who do not have the basic skills expected of a school leaver.
Episode two of the third series of Let’s Go Further will be published on Tuesday 17 October. This series is focusing on adult education and is asking whether, as a nation, we are still committed to the century-old vision of adult education as being both universal and lifelong. New episodes of the podcast will be published on alternate Tuesdays throughout October, November and into December.
Let’s Go Further is a podcast that aims to challenge the way we think about skills and education. It was first launched in the autumn of 2022 with a series focused on social mobility. The second series was published in the Spring of 2023 and looked at issues around equity, diversity and inclusion. To date, the podcast has had approximately 2,000 downloads.
Listen to the Let’s Go Further back catalogue here.
The Let’s Go Further podcast is produced by the Skills and Education Group in collaboration with Research Podcasts and is available wherever you receive your podcasts, including YouTube. You can follow the Skills and Education Group on LinkedIn and X (formerly known as Twitter).
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