AELP plead caution over MP announcement on over-60s training
A proposal which could see over-60s go back to university and retrain should undergo a "full impact assessment first" .
That was the view of The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) who were responding to an MP comment on the need for over-60s to retrain.
David Willetts MP, Minister for Universities and Science, yesterday called for workers over the age 60 to go back to university for retraining and upskilling. With the number of over-60s expected to reach 19 million by 2050, Willetts believes that retraining and upgrading skills can help older workers remain employable.
AELP have come out in support of the statement but warn that financing a loan repayment may pose a real challenge.
An AELP spokesman said: "The Association of Employment and Learning Providers are natural supporters of lifelong learning and there is still much more to be done, particularly with SMEs, to encourage learning in the workplace.
"The concern we have with the minister's proposals is similar to the one we have with FE loans for people aged 25 and over who might want to start an apprenticeship, namely when you have a mortgage and the costs of raising a family to think about, financing a loan repayment is a real challenge. And even when you pass the age of 60, there are retirement living costs and possibly expensive care costs to think about. AELP has warned the Government that FE loans might have a very negative impact on adult apprenticeship numbers, so any new proposals should undergo a full impact assessment first."
Dianne Worman, diversity and inclusion adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), believes that the announcement will remove some of the barriers that may have been around before.
"It's good that they are making the option available. Some of our research* shows that older workers may not participate as much in training for one reason or another. I think it's imperative that employers encourage older workers to take more of an active role in their training and development," she said.
"This announcement has removed some of the barriers that may have been around before. And I know not everyone will be able to do it but at least they have given older workers the choice - they definitely have the appetite for it in my opinion."
Alastair Thomson, principal advocacy officer at the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE), added: "The idea that older people should consider refreshing their skills for an extended working life is one that deserves support. But colleges and universities may need to re-think what they offer.
"Not only can learning in later life improve and lengthen your working life, but there are also many health benefits.
"However, a full-time course may not be of interest to many older people, whereas part-time study can help develop new skills and understanding or refresh and update knowledge. While individuals need to continue investing in their own development throughout their lives, employers also need to look again at properly utilising the skills of the older workforce."
*CIPD 2012 - Managing a healthy ageing workforce: A national business imperative