Benefits plea for learning

September 26, 1997

AN assembly meeting of the National Institute for Adult and Continuing Education heard calls for a reform of the benefits system to encourage lifelong learning, writes Alison Utley.

Sue Cara, associate director of NIACE, said assembly delegates criticised the 16-hour rule which meant part-time students were often forced to give up their studies in order to retain benefits. There was a strong agreement that part- and full-time students should be treated as equivalents in funding terms.

The assembly did recognise that much of the funding for lifelong learning would come from a re-jigging of existing cash rather than from new money.

A strategic framework was needed to bolster workplace learning, particularly among small and medium-sized employers, the assembly heard. "We need to be able to convince these firms of the value of workplace learning," Ms Cara said.

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