Association for Learning Technology Online Newsletter
Issue 7 January 2007   Saturday, January 27, 2007

ISSN 1748-3603

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Feature article
Partnerships with Palestinians
Where is the E in L itch? Embedded or Invisible?
Leitch: another skills report
The Quality Improvement Agency’s (QIA) response to Leitch
Leitch is no Occam
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Mobile Learning
The Tribal Education Innovation Challenge
Accessibility awareness raising and continuing professional development
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mLearn 2006: Across generations and cultures
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Where is the E in L itch? Embedded or Invisible?
Leitch Review of Skills: Prosperity for all in the global economy - world class skills
by Bob Harrison

 December 2006 saw the publication of Lord Leitch's final report considering the long-term skills needs of the UK until 2020. This Review focuses on adult skills; the development of which continues to constitute a major policy challenge. The Review found that even if current targets to improve skills were met, the UK's skills base would still lag behind that of many countries. It sets out ambitious goals for 2020 which, if achieved, would make the UK a world leader in skills.

In the report "Prosperity for all in the global economy - world class skills", Leitch presents the case for investing in skills, provides a vision for the UK economy, outlines the principles underpinning delivery of a raised ambition and makes recommendations which include a far-reaching reform agenda. The Review offers a vision for the UK to become a world leader in skills by 2020 and establishes some stretching objectives which include:

  • 95% of adults to achieve basic skills of functional literacy and numeracy (up from 85% and 79% respectively in 2005);
  • More than 90% of adults qualified to at least level 2 (increase from 69% in 2005);
  • Improvement in intermediate skills (level 3) 1.9 million additional level 3 attainments and boosting number of apprenticeships to 500,000 a year;
  • More than 40% of adults qualified to level 4 and above (up from 29% in 2005).

The Leitch Review also outlines some principles to underpin the reform of the skills agenda such as increased action and investment on behalf of employers, individuals and the government. It also envisages the development of skills that provide real returns for employers, individuals and society. Furthermore, the Review provides some wide-ranging recommendations for consideration, which include:

  • Increasing adult skills across all levels through additional investment by the state, employers and individuals with the government committed to increasing the share of GDP allocated to education and skills;
  • Routing all public funding for adult vocational skills (apart from community learning) through interventions such as ‘Train to Gain’ and ‘Learner Accounts’ by 2010;
  • Creating of a new Commission for Employment and Skills through the merger of SSDA and the National Employment Panel, and reforming and expanding Sector Skills Councils (SSCs);
  • Increasing employer commitment to train to level 2 by seeking a voluntary 'pledge' and if by 2010 improvements are not apparent to introduce a statutory entitlement in consultation with employers and unions;
  • Increasing employer investment in level 3 and 4 through extending ‘Train to Gain’ to include higher levels, increasing apprenticeship volumes and co-funded workplace degrees whilst also improving engagement between employers and universities.

The Review concludes that this policy framework will deliver the world class skills agenda given the right investment and delivery reform. 

Unfortunately, Leitch’s Review misses a crucial and critical dimension. A word search of the document produces an interesting insight into the lack of understanding of the implications of digital technologies either as a discreet component of the global economy or as an essential component of other global economic developments.

E Learning
Digital Economy
New Technology
Networked Economy
Cultural Industries
Cultural Regeneration
Creative Industries
Social Networking

It is difficult to see how this review prepared with an “Industrial Age” mindset can help deliver world-class skills for the “Information Age” without a major shift in perspective and a much greater understanding of the implications of new and digital technologies, greater mobility and ubiquitous access to knowledge.

Bob Harrison

Leitch Review:
Review of Leitch Review by Seb Seb Schmoller:

Bob Harrison is a teacher and tutor for NCSL as well as a Consultant with the DfES Improvement Group. Also, he is an Education Adviser to Toshiba Information Systems (UK) Ltd and is advising consortiums working on the BSF project. He is writing in a personal capacity and can be contacted on or at  

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