Education is key to growth, OU vice-chancellor tells party conferences

Oct 15, 2012


The vice-chancellor (pictured) has been stressing the need for employers and employees to upskill and reskill so that British businesses can face the challenges of the 21st century.
He said: "In building the economy, we cannot afford to wait up to a decade for today’s children to complete years of school, university and training. We need to see a shift from traditional, classroom-based programmes to alternatives that integrate learning into the workplace.”
It was a message that resounded with delegates at all three party conferences.
At the Liberal Democrat conference in Brighton, Mr Bean debated the role of higher education with Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Vince Cable and an audience of senior figures from the worlds of business and education.
In Manchester, the vice-chancellor joined Shadow Higher Education Minister Shabana Mahmood and former Secretary of State for Education Lord Adonis in a round table at the Labour conference.
At the Conservative conference in Birmingham, he spoke alongside Education Minister Liz Truss at a fringe event organised by the Centre for Social Justice.
Many top companies back the OU’s flexible on-line approach to learning, with 80 per cent of FTSE 100 companies sponsoring staff on OU courses. Mr Bean said: "Part-time online study with the Open University allows today’s workers to ‘earn while they learn’, bringing immediate benefits to their workplace.
"Some employers have asked me what happens if they educate a worker only to see them leave but surely the bigger question is what will happen if you do not educate your staff and they stay?"
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