The Government is preparing to publish an important consultation paper on "lifetime learning", Gillian Shephard, Secretary of State for Education and Employment, announced this week.
The document, expected to be published before November ends, will precede another consultation paper on higher education.
It will spell out plans to encourage adults and 14 to 19-year-olds to continue education and training throughout their working life, and to strive for qualifications recognised in the Government's National Education and Training Targets.
Mrs Shephard, who outlined the plans in a speech at the Carlton Club in London on Monday, said the consultation would involve the National Advisory Council on Education and Training Targets, Training and Enterprise Councils and educationists, in looking at how to concentrate the resources of Government, employers and individuals on lifetime learning.
The Investors in People standard, which has attracted growing support from employers willing to invest in training, was "a key means to this end", now nearly covering a quarter of the workforce, she said. But individuals must also be helped to finance learning. "This is where tax relief, career development loans, and the support given by the further and higher education colleges and by local education authorities for continuing education all come into play," she added.
Mrs Shephard said: "I have always been conscious that many adolescents gain in confidence and motivation, and do better, when they become aware of the disciplines and needs of the adult workforce. The purpose of education, its point, then becomes clear."
A group of training providers and employers would meet next month "to see how we can get the best out of these young people".
The paper may help the Government compile its submission to an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development meeting on lifelong learning next year.