Minister for Skills and Lifelong Learning - “Learning is a vital part of our lives”

The recently appointed Minister for Skills and Lifelong Learning, John Hayes, made his first speech at the ‘Adult Learners Week Policy Conference (Prospects for Lifelong Learning in Challenging Times)’ on the 19th May.

The conference, which was attended by the ECA’s Vice Chairman and two other members of the National Executive, was organised by NIACE and held in London; it focused on reframing the priorities for adult learning in the new Parliament.

ECA representative Mark Walton said that the John Hayes speech was very, very positive demonstrating a clear understanding and personal knowledge of the sector. He promised that ‘in contrast to previous Ministers’ he would match warm words about the value of adult learning with real action.

During his speech the new Minister stressed his commitment to supporting adult learning saying ‘adult learning is a cause which I have upheld throughout my whole career in Parliament that I hold close to my heart, for which I argued passionately in opposition. And with equal passion will champion in government’. He added ‘Adult education brings hope and promise of a better society founded on social mobility, social justice and community cohesion’ and ‘we must recognise the value of community learning to civil society’. Hayes referred to the latest edition of the NIACE publication ‘Adults Learning’ in which there is an interview with the new Prime Minister David Cameron “Adult learning is not a luxury, it is an essential component of our education system – a point well made by the new Prime Minister in the published interview which you recently had with him”

In the publication Cameron stated that "Adult learning has a really important role to play in encouraging active citizenship. I'm not just talking about what people learn about specifically, but how that learning makes them feel. Going along to college means meeting people, discussing what's going on in the world and boosting your belief in what you can do. It's that self-belief that leads people to get involved in their communities and become more active citizens." "Given that my vision for this country is for all of us to get involved and play our part in national renewal, I believe adult learning, and the way it inspires people, is crucially important."

You can read the full speech from John Hayes by visiting

Date Added: May 21st 2010