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The dynamics of human capital and the world of work

Towards a common market in contemporary tertiary education

Author - Aidan Kenny


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10 Policy initiatives

In this section three different policy[16] initiatives that have relevance to human capital and the world of work are explored. They are Learning for Life: White Paper on Adult Education (2000), the National Development Plan (2007–2013), the Social Partnership National Agreement Towards 2016.

In 2000 the Irish Governments published its first White Paper on lifelong learning entitled, ‘Learning for Life: White Paper on Adult Education’ (2000). This White Paper develops a policy agenda for a ‘systematic approach’ to lifelong learning, ‘equality of access’ for learners to programmes, and ‘interculturalism’ serving diverse populations of learners. The White Paper sets out its priorities in adult education as follows.

Adult Education is the last area of mass education which remains to be developed in Ireland, and it will require significantly increased investment on a phased basis if adult learning opportunities are to reach a stage of parity with those in other countries. In facing such a challenge the top priorities are:

  • to allocate priority resources to addressing adult literacy needs;
  • to systematically increase opportunities for adult learners within the system, prioritising the needs of those with less than upper secondary education;
  • to develop supporting services such as adult guidance and counselling and childcare;
  • to enhance the responsiveness, relevance and flexibility of education and training provision to meet the needs of young people and adults alike, optimising participation of and benefit to, those at risk;
  • to promote and develop a co-ordinated integrated role for adult education and training as a vital component within an over-arching framework for lifelong learning.

(DoES 2000: 22)

The White Paper makes recommendations for both formal and informal learning, including the workplace, community, further education and higher education. Within higher education the proposals are aimed at widening participation, access for mature students, support services for these students, funding strategy, distance education and mechanisms to monitor the implementation of this policy initiative. The White Paper views investment in lifelong learning as an important approach which can add active citizenship, social cohesion, competitiveness, cultural developments and act as a vehicle for community building.

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