Lifelong ambitions

Government is pumping millions of pounds into changing attitudes to encourage
lifelong learning, but is it making a difference? Are trainers seeing a
difference? Is there a greater hunger for learning? What barriers remain? Simon
Kent talks to some professionals

Director, London Tec Council

last annual London Skills Survey showed one in four people was taking training.
This is good news, but the flipside is that 75 per cent of Londoners are not
engaged in developing new skills. Getting Londoners learning is a real

those with most to gain are least likely to be taking action. Less than one in 10
people without work is receiving training. London professionals are four times
more likely to be improving their skills than those in manual occupations.
Learning is still considered something only young people do – 37 per cent of 16
to 24-year-olds are taking training compared to just 10 per cent of the over
50s. The classless, ageless concept of lifelong learning has yet to become a

needs the bigger picture treatment, to become as desirable a lifestyle choice
as other current consumer passions like health clubs, DIY or holidays. We are a
long way from that, but that must be the goal.

De Broize
Technical training specialist, The AA’s Simon Dyer Learning Centre

surveyed members of our learning centre mailing list to see if anyone had heard
of lifelong learning, learndirect, the University for Industry or individual
learning accounts. I had around 100 responses and it was sad to find that only
one person had heard of all of them. The majority had heard of none of them,
but wanted to know more.

seems the publicity campaign has failed as it appears to have missed the people
it was targeting. It’s only people like me, already working in the field of
learning and development, who have heard all about it.

have read reports that said the DfEE planned to put learning centres in pubs
and football clubs. However, I never see any mention of the kind of support a
learner can expect to receive. Rather than worrying about access in
“alternative” places, I think the Government should concentrate on raising
awareness of and investing in the number of places learning opportunities
already exist.

Chief executive, Campaign for Learning

have no doubt that the current Government’s interest in lifelong learning is
beginning to make a difference in the way learning happens at work. On 25 May,
more organisations and individuals than ever before took part in Learning at
Work Day. In a recent Campaign for Learning MORI poll, 77 per cent of people
said they would prefer to work for an employer who supported their learning
than one which gave them a salary rise. These two pieces of data indicate a
real appetite for learning in individuals.

all is by no means yet conducive for learning. In a recent survey we undertook,
60 per cent of workers said their work environment did not make it easy to
learn. Too much training is still didactic and classroom-based.

enough people enjoy regular coaching. Too many learning providers have an
inflexible offer which is not delivering what learners want. Tomorrow’s learner
will demand a bespoke, one-to-one service and there aren’t many trainers able
to offer this yet.

Director of training, Sodexho

Sodexho (formerly Gardner Merchant) we believe we have a responsibility to
provide an environment in which people can develop, learn and flourish and are
committed to long term learning and development. It is one of the major
challenges for large organisations to ensure that every one of its management
behaves and carries out its beliefs. I welcome the emphasis being put on
lifelong learning which supports our approach to personal development.

potential employees come with an expectation of being developed and the
successful organisations will be those who can truly develop individuals in
advance of business need. I believe that if the needs of individuals are
fulfilled, it leads to long term commitment from employees.

development should not just be related to the competencies required for the
role but should also provide the opportunity to develop outside of the job in
other areas such as qualifications and projects within the community.

European management development manager, Kimberly-Clark Europe

have certainly seen a greater thirst from employees to continue learning. Last
year we experienced a 35 per cent increase in the number of employees attending
training programmes – evidence of how training is being taken seriously.

have seen a growing interest in further education programmes and a number of employees
have decided to study for qualifications in areas related to their work.

the same time, employees simply want to keep their skills up to speed, whether
that means keeping up to date with software or maintaining traditional
management skills such as in presentation, project management and so on.

would say, however, the primary driver for this is not necessarily the
Government initiative but that people now realise the job market is
increasingly qualifications oriented. Employees recognise it is a fast-changing
world and want to keep their skills up to date. Qualifications can remove
barriers to career moves. In addition there is now a greater availability of
courses through Internet and e-mail so people can work on their skills

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