Joe Crossley, CEO at Qube Learning

Continuous retraining as a solution to job losses from #automation and #AI

People who are comfortable in a learning environment – i.e. those who already have a first degree – are more likely to be inspired to maintain learning practices.

But what about people who were never inspired to learn in school?

There is a ‘missing’ demographic of potential learners who would benefit from an alternative approach; some of the 50,000 students who won't get good GCSE passes for instance.

In her recent THE article Anna McKie asks "When will lifelong learning come of age?", but Joe Crossley, CEO at Qube Learning, believes that as an industry we might be missing the point when it comes to considering lifelong learning:

People are asking what part higher education is going to play in supporting lifelong learning, and how it can compete with organisations such as Amazon, which announced plans last month to spend $700 million (£569 million) over six years to retrain a third of its US workforce.

Vice-Chancellor of the OU Mary Kellet voices concerns that even people who have completed degrees might need retraining:

“By the time a student starting now finishes their degree, some of the knowledge they learned at the beginning could be redundant.”

This is all missing the point isn’t it?

The sort of people who have got a first degree are most likely going to be inspired to keep learning and will be perfectly well-equipped to identify and access new training opportunities.

Their biggest concern will be, as Kellet points out, “how to juggle numerous other commitments, such as jobs, children and caring for elderly relatives.”

What about people who have never been inspired to learn in the first instance? Before they can begin to think about juggling other commitments, they need to be convinced that learning of any description will benefit them.

Next week (22 Aug), more than half a million young adults in England will get their GCSE results.

A significant proportion (let’s be conservative and say around ten per cent or about 50,000) will not have good passes in any subject. It’s reasonable to imagine that they didn’t find learning inspiring, won’t want to do it again in a hurry, and certainly not on a life-long basis!


Universities are geared up, quite rightly, for people who thrive on a certain type of educational approach.

Private training and learning providers offer a different type of education. We have to show people that we won’t offer a repeat of the past fifteen years or so of their life in a classroom.

We offer training, apprenticeships and short professional skills courses to people who have got excellent qualifications already, as a great alternative to university, and also those who, for whatever reason, did not enjoy or benefit from their formal education at school.

I’d like to say with a ‘wink-emoji’ it’s a “first world problem” to worry about re-training people after they’ve completed their first degrees. 

Ironically, what really is a first world problem is the number of people who have been completely put off any type of learning by the time they leave school.

Joe Crossley, CEO at Qube Learning

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