Lifelong learning and social mobility – a helpful start but more to do?

22nd May 2012

The publication today by the Deputy Prime Minister of an update on progress towards improving social mobility in the UK on 22 May, is welcomed by NIACE for the recognition it gives to the role of lifelong learning.

In the report Opening Doors, Breaking Barriers, the government says that “supporting those who missed out on education first time round or who want to update their skills later in life” is one of four ways in which the government will promote ‘second chances’ to adults. NIACE, however, questions whether this is followed through sufficiently in the ‘social trackers’ that will be used to measure how well the government is doing in making society fairer.

Commenting on these trackers, NIACE Principal Policy and Advocacy Officer, Alastair Thomson, said:

“The government intends to measure adult social mobility by looking at graduate destinations and access to the professions by social background as well as by progression in the labour market and second chances in the labour market. While a focus on higher education is necessary, government needs to remember that further education and vocational qualifications is probably the more effective route to social mobility for most people.”

“We think that a more inclusive picture could be gained by looking at levels of adult participation in learning of all kinds since this evidences levels of aspiration and desire for self-improvement. Many adults know that learning is an effective route to help them change their lives for the better.”