Submission from the Revd David A Neaum
A letter of argument against the reducing governmental
support given to institutions for students taking second qualifications
of an equivalent or lower level (ELQs).
I am an ordained deacon within the Church of
England and personally benefited from the support in question.
Although wishing to note the devastating impact such a reduction
would have on students like myself my argument focuses upon broader
concerns: on the need for reskilling not just upskilling; on how
the government's plan results in back door discrimination against
women; and on the government's elected duty to represent interests
besides the national economic interest.
A continuation of the current levels of governmental
support, or, if such support is not forthcoming, exemptions including
but not necessarily limited to those training for ordination within
the Church of England and/or leadership within other established
The government believes it is in the "national
economic interest" to "upskill" as many people
as possible to first degree level and the present changes are
designed to facilitate this goal. The timing is considered to
be of such importance that these changes can not wait until a
fuller and more comprehensive review could take them into account
with a larger and more coherent strategy.
I argue that "upskilling" should not
be to the cost of "reskilling" in a changing economy
that demands increasing market flexibility and increasing workforce
flexibility. The workforce needs to be able to re-tool and adapt
in the contemporary economy and the government's plans are designed
to reduce this flexibility for employees and workers. We certainly
need to "upskill" but in conjunction not in opposition
The government's plans in effect result in back-door
discrimination against childrearing, against the family, and against
mothers. It is particularly important for those who have not worked
for some time, such as women returning to work after child-rearing,
to be able to re-skill and re-enter the workforce. The government's
plan is reducing choice for women and perpetuating a masculine
model of an "employee" and "worker".
The government, whilst duty bound to care for
"collective national economic interest" is also bound
to represent those who have other interests, other notions of
the "good". The Church of England is an umbrella body
which itself represents people who care about more than just economic
well-being. They care about justice, community, goodness, and
the moral health of society. The government is therefore duty
bound to support in some measure the established Church of England
in it's representative capacity. The Church of England needs governmental
support in helping to reskill the people who are called to be
its leaders and priests. If the government fails to represent
the values the Church of England and it's parishioners advocate
then it fails in the representative duty it was elected to fulfill,
it fails in that those interests besides "economic interest"
will not be cared for, and it fails in that the well-being of
society will suffer.
We want a knowledge economy not just a skills
economy. We want lifelong learning not learning once for life.
We want further and higher education, not a limited education.