Learning accounts

October 17, 1997

AN article on individual learning accounts (THES, October 10), implied that I was hostile to the concept and in particular that I had commented that the Bamford Taggs proposals were ill thought out. Neither is true: I have long been a supporter of the concept, indeed since 1985 when we first suggested the idea in our report A Challenge to Complacency.

As a mechanism for encouraging savings by individuals, by their employers and by others, the concept is fine - and the Bamford Taggs proposals explore various ways of doing this. My concern arises with any proposal to extend the concept to include channelling public funds through such accounts. This is not a topic to which Bamford Taggs has devoted much attention; nor, as far as I can tell, has anyone else.

The most significant study on the use of public funds in this connection was the work we undertook on the feasibility of learning credits for the 16 to 19 age group (1995). I do hope that enthusiasm for the concept, which I share, will be matched by analytical thought about what it is really trying to achieve and about how it could be put into practice.

Quentin Thompson.

Coopers & Lybrand

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