Blackpool MP heads plan to improve further education and skills

MP Gordon Marsden
MP Gordon Marsden
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Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden helped launch his party’s new national Lifelong Learning Commission.

It aims to bring a team of experts in higher and further education together to make a plan to improve training and skills opportunities.

As Shadow Minister for HE, FE and Skills, the MP has been working to set up the group, drawing on his previous experiences as an Open University and WEA tutor.

He said the sector had lost out badly under austerity.

He said: “Eight years of Tory Government cuts to college and council budgets have decimated the ability for thousands of people across Blackpool to re-skill and train. When you combine this with the tripling of tuition fees and replace maintenance grants with loans, there are now far fewer learning opportunities for part-time and older learners locally and across the country.

“Labour will change this and our commission will make sure lifelong learning is a vital part of building the party’s National Education Service.

“When I went to the Blackpool Centre for the Unemployed last week, the people there told me a properly funded and joined up lifelong learning system was central to dealing with the challenges facing Blackpool and other small town economies - whether it’s on Brexit, insecure employment or the future automation of work.

The 14 experts brought together by Mr Marsden cover a wide range of experience in skills, higher and further education and lifelong learning. The commission will be co-chaired by former education secretary Estelle Morris and CWU union general secretary Dave Ward. It aims to produce its report later this year.

At the launch Labour leader Jeremy Corbin said: “I want to thank Gordon Marsden, who’s passion for lifelong learning has been crucial in bringing the commission together.”