The Palace of Westminster

Adult education and lifelong learning vital to UK economy

“Adult education and lifelong learning have a vital role in strengthening the UK's economy,” and “the Government recognises that there is more to be done to ensure that the UK has the skills and flexibility it needs to grow in the global economy".

That’s according to Baroness Natalie Evans, the UK Government's Higher Education Spokesperson, during a House of Lords debate on education and lifelong learning.

The Open University was mentioned on several occasions during the debate last Thursday 28th January, including the OU's work with the BBC, in particular its Make it Digital initiative, and FutureLearn.

Baroness Evans added:

The importance of lifelong learning should not be underestimated as it improves the life changes of people who are low skilled and socially or economically disadvantaged, which in turn supports the country's growth and productivity, as well as their contribution to their local communities and their health.

The debate (you can read it in full on Hansard), tabled by Baroness Margaret Sharp, saw contributions from a high number of Peers and gained much publicity. And Baroness Shirley Williams, former education secretary and 'giant of common sense', used the topic of lifelong learning for her farewell speech in the Lords. She said:

The Open University, one of those great public sector institutions, which enabled people for the first time, all their lives long, to gain more education, more understanding and more wisdom.

You can watch Baroness Williams' full speech in the video below, or read the full transcript.


Photo by Robert.Pittman