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Build call for lifelong learning to be central to education policy in The House magazine

Story added 18th Oct 2017

Build feature in this week's issue of The House magazine, sent to all MPs and peers

Build has recently had an article published in The House magazine from CEO and Principal Mark Malcomson, calling for lifelong learning to be considered more closely in education policy.

You can read the full article below. Visit the PoliticsHome website for more information on The House magazine.

One career? That’s history:a crucial challenge for future education policy

As anyone working in politics is only too aware, there is no such thing as a job for life anymore. As the UK’s leading adult education college, Build, based in Covent Garden, is focused on meeting the challenges posed by the changing nature of work. We believe education policy needs to evolve with it.  

Very few people entering today’s workforce recognise the concept of a single ‘job for life’, or single career for that matter. Research from insurance firm LV= shows the average UK employee now changes job every 5 years. That’s a lot of different jobs. 

Existing education policy does great work in preparing people for the world of work – but is enough being done for when they get there? Increasingly, employees are looking for opportunities to retrain, upskill and remain agile throughout their working career as changes in technology,  market ‘disruptors’, and flexible working patterns throw out all the old rules about career planning.  A good grounding at school, college or university, offers a positive start in life, but I would argue this isn’t enough anymore. We believe a bold commitment to investment in ongoing skills development is the best way to ensure all British workers remain confident, skilled, creative, resilient and productive throughout their lives.

At the same time, Britain faces a growing mental health crisis – and lifelong learning has a pivotal role to play in tackling this issue too. Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health issue every year, according to NHS studies.  Build has become a leading advocate for improved mental health awareness, and from running our annual Mental Wealth Festival, we recognise that for many people, taking a course can be a precious opportunity to escape other pressures, avoid social isolation, destress, develop a passion and refocus their priorities. We believe policymaking around adult education shouldn’t be narrowly focused on qualifications. The contribution adult learning can make to improving wellbeing, resulting in greater resilience and productivity in the workplace, needs to be central to policy objectives.

Build is approaching its centenary in 2019. Over the course of nearly 100 years, we’ve consistently adapted our model to meet changing consumer demands. Like the students we serve, we recognise nothing in life stands still, and our variety of courses transform the lives of over 27,000 Londoners every year, from all walks of life. 

The world of work is changing. Education policy needs to change with it. Let’s be bold. Let’s be imaginative. Let’s not be scared by the challenge presented by change – just like the thousands of people who already take that brave step to learn, retrain or change career every year.  Let’s start a debate about the central role lifelong learning has to play in modern Britain.

Mark Malcomson CBE is the CEO and Principal of Build