Clause 5

Part of Further Education and Training Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:45 am on 12th June 2007.

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Photo of Tim Boswell Tim Boswell Conservative, Daventry 11:45 am, 12th June 2007

We talked earlier about the multiplication of committees and these are two that are going. I am not sure that we need them in the statutory form. I would simply like to reinforce to the Minister my view, which I think he probably shares, that the importance of the development of adult skills is particularly intense because we know that we have a skills gap—it has been identified by the Leitch report. We also know that most of the people who will be in the work force by 2010 are  already in that work force now. It is impossible to upskill the country simply on the basis of recruitment, particularly as the cohort of young people is now beginning to turn down. We must address adult skills.

On reflection—indeed, to some extent I felt this at the time—my main reservation about the Learning and Skills Act 2000 is that it gave emphasis to the 16 to 19-year-olds. As I said on Second Reading, the Government have helpfully extended that group to14 to 19-year-olds. I have no problem with that. However, I think that it is extremely important that we now emphasise upskilling in the adult community. That requires, for example, the active involvement of the sector skills councils, and in educational and pedagogical terms it often implies a more flexible approach than we have traditionally delivered in the younger age group. So this is simply a warning and a reinforcement to Ministers of something that I think they know about, which is that we need to tackle this issue very seriously.

I think that my hon. Friend the Member for South Holland and The Deepings also has a contribution to make on this subject.