The last of "systematic" adult education in Jersey has been criticised in a new official report, which found the island is lagging well behind other countries.
Published this week by the Education Minister, Deputy Inna Gardiner, the 'FE and Skills Actionable Agenda' report found “disparities” with “international norms", with Jersey's “relative lack of systematic through-life learning beyond age 19 is most striking."
Despite adult education proving beneficial for well-being and economic success, it said there is “no systematic and stable entitlement to adult education” for islanders over the age of 19 who are not following an apprenticeship or university course.
There report concludes that there is “a need for the Government to either pump-prime provision, or otherwise cover gaps where the market will not provide, as employers or individuals are unable to invest”.
Deputy Rob Ward, a former teacher, stressed the importance of providing “constant opportunities for people to be able to train and re-train throughout their careers.”
“Young people are leaving the island as training is less accessible here than it is off-island, and that is something that has to change”, he added.
Pictured: Deputy Rob Ward chaired the Education Panel between 2018 and 2022.
The FE and Skills Actionable Agenda report proposes the creation of Jersey Skills Fund to “enable a systematic approach to be taken in skilling, re-skilling and up-skilling Jersey’s workforce”.
It is suggested that a key area for this future investment should be to equip people with the skills to install emerging carbon-neutral technologies, such as heat pumps and electric vehicles, which also supports the island’s commitment to carbon-neutrality by 2030.
Jersey’s current investment in digital skills is praised, however it is found that even this area “presupposes a level of literacy and numeracy” which cannot be assumed, particularly as there is no standing entitlement to adult numeracy and literacy education in the island.
This is further criticised as being unfair on those in economically disadvantaged groups who often already have a lower level of literacy and numeracy skills. This prevents people in these groups from being able to access re-skilling provisions which require an assumed level of literacy and numeracy skills, thus having a detrimental impact on social equity and sustainability.
Pictured: Jersey's investment in digital skills is good, but excludes those in disadvantaged groups but “presupposing a level of literacy and numeracy”.
This therefore leads to one of the other key action points of the FE and Skills Actionable Agenda report, which calls for funding to be made available for adult numeracy and literacy.
This includes funding for speakers of overseas languages, if they meet existing residency requirements.
The report says that “a flexible and skilled workforce can only be achieved if adults can access re-skilling”, emphasising that “without basic numeracy and literacy, and increasingly digital skills, [islanders] are unlikely to be able to access re- skilling provision”.
Deputy Ward said: “It is essential for an island community and island economy to ensure that people can up-skill locally rather than leaving the island, but there are often financial obstacles for people who want to re-train in Jersey.
“Perhaps money that is currently spent on bringing in consultants from the UK or employing people from overseas agencies could instead be used funding training for those who wish to upskill on-island.”
Pictured: Deputy Catherine Curtis, Chair of the Children, Education and Home Affairs Scrutiny Panel.
The Children, Education and Home Affairs Scrutiny Panel, chaired by Deputy Catherine Curtis, will feedback on this report early next year.
However, Deputy Curtis said that she is keen to urge the Minister for Children and Education to "incorporate and prioritise plans for training towards our keyworker positions - teachers, teaching assistants, nurses, care workers, social workers, emergency workers - with anything from experience on the wards or in schools, to preparation for and including full training".
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