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UCU welcomes select committee report on importance of lifelong learning

16 January 2009

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UCU today welcomed calls from an influential parliamentary committee to support colleges delivering relevant training to individuals and communities likely to be worst hit by the economic downturn.

The union said the report was timely, but warned that any course cuts, at a time when the recession is biting hard, could lead to 'pockets of despair and inter-generational unemployment in parts of the country'.

Commenting on the 'Re-skilling for recovery: after Leitch' report by the Innovation, Universities, Skills and Science Committee released today, UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'We simply cannot afford to be losing courses at a time when access to skills and training has never been more important. The government has to preserve choice and ensure that people have access to courses relevant to them and their training needs. Failure to support programmes around community cohesion and lifelong learning could keep certain individuals away from training for life and to lead to pockets of despair and inter-generational unemployment in parts of the country.

'We are pleased the report calls for effective solutions to support lifelong learning and flexibility to support people facing redundancy in the current climate. Colleges have the experience of dealing with recessions and many are already tailoring courses to respond to patterns of job losses, or likely losses, in their local areas. We urge the government to properly support these efforts.'

UCU is a founder member of the Campaigning Alliance for Lifelong Learning (CALL), formed to fight cuts to adult education. CALL will be putting pressure on the government to defend and promote lifelong learning in the forthcoming Children, Schools and Learners Bill at a lobby of Parliament on 25 February 2009. Over 1.4 million places have been lost in the last two years in English adult education due to cuts and fee rises.

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