A new report visualises and sets out recommendations for the Government to introduce the “college of the future” by 2030, a critical institution in helping people become lifelong learners equipped with vital skills to progress into the working world.

A new report by the Independent Commission on the College of the Future, a commission set up in 2019, outlines vital recommendations on how the ‘college of the future’ can be set up by 2030.

The aim of this research was to “set out a new vision for colleges” which will “empower people with the skills they need to get on in life, support better productivity and innovation of businesses and strengthen every community’s sense of place”.

Within this, the report states that the college of the future should offer flexible and blended learning as well as offering guidance to empower each person to get a job, progress in their career and become an active citizen. To improve productivity, the report calls for the college to offer strategic advice and support for employers to drive business change, innovation and future workforce planning. Finally, the report states the college of the future will play a vital role in fostering healthy and connected communities through promoting public health and social inclusion.

Noting that colleges are at an intersection between policy areas such as education, training, employment, innovation and social inclusion, the Commission suggests that the college of the future will respond and adapt to trends such as the ageing population, climate change, the digital revolution, globalisation and equity, diversity and social inclusion.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said:

Combined, megatrends are creating pressure for people to develop new and higher levels of skills, as well as to continue upskilling throughout life and to use their skills more effectively. Many of these same trends are also creating opportunities for people with the right skills to proactively transform our economies and societies for the better.

The Commission made three main recommendations to the governments of each nation in the UK:

  • Upskilling people across the UK and giving them access to lifelong learning
  • Colleges developing a unique service for local businesses for training and upskilling employees. This would include developing sector specialist ’employment hubs’
  • Articulating a ten year plan for education and training which will support economic growth, industrial change and lifelong learning

It has stated that, although the Commission’s initial aims with visualising the College of the Future remain the same, COVID-19 has accelerated this process significantly and a skills-led recovery to the pandemic is essential.

Sir Ian Diamond, Chair of the Independent Commission on the College of the Future, said:

Colleges are vital yet under-utilised institutions that offer the transformational learning and support that our four nations need now, more than ever, if we are to face the long-term impacts of COVID-19 and to drive a sustainable, inclusive economy. 

We must all commit to a bold ambition on skills. Lifelong learning is the only way to ensure people and businesses will survive the recession and thrive in the future. With the right support, colleges can deliver on this urgent need for every community.