Pearson announces independent review into the future of skills

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Former Select Committee Chair Neil Carmichael to lead inquiry with leading education provider.

Pearson, the digital education company, has announced a new, independent group to examine the UK’s future skills needs and landscape. The Commission on Sustainable Learning for Life, Work & a Changing Economy will be chaired by former head of the Education Select Committee, Neil Carmichael.

The expert group is designed to provide a clear and independent overview of the challenges facing education in the UK - with an emphasis on vocational and technical education - and generate practical solutions.

The Commission will seek to engage the widest possible audience - including educators, learners and employers - to look at the factors driving our skills needs well into this century, how our current education system is or is not equipped to deliver them, and the innovations, changes and challenges that may be faced along the way.

The initial cohort of members includes:

  • Neil Carmichael (Chair);
  • Ian Ashman (former President, Association of Colleges);
  • Alice Barnard (Chief Executive, The Edge Foundation);
  • Jim Clifford (Partner & Director of Advisory/Impact, Bates Wells Braithwaite);
  • Ann Francke (Chief Executive, Chartered Management Institute);
  • Nick Hudson (Chief Executive, Ormiston Academies Trust);
  • John Laramy (Principal & Chief Executive, Exeter College);
  • Dave Phoenix (Vice-Chancellor, London South Bank University);
  • James Kirkup (Director, Social Market Foundation);
  • Mark Stewart (Hr Director, Airbus);
  • Ian Looker (Education Lead, PWC);
    Professor Geoff Wake (University of Nottingham);
  • Pearson’s Rod Bristow (President, UK & Core Markets) and Cindy Rampersaud (Senior Vice-President, BTEC & Apprenticeships, Pearson) will also attend.

In particular, but not exclusively, the group will seek evidence, in the form of research and testimony on the following six issues:

  • Predictions about the future of work and skills, taking into account global and local trends, many of which have been documented in recent industry reports.
  • The relationship between academic study and vocational, or career, training.
  • The interface between employers/entrepreneurs and educators - establishing the equilibrium between supply and demand for skills.
  • The relationship between curriculum design and assessment/awards.
  • Routes & signposting in the education for the learner, including lifelong learning.

Neil Carmichael commented: “I am delighted to be leading this commission. This is a time of huge challenges in education and society. To meet those challenges we need the independent expertise of schools, colleges, universities, employers, learners and policy makers to be collated into practical suggestions to aid the government and others in equipping Great Britain for the task ahead.”

Rod Bristow, President of Pearson in the UK commented: “Pearson is committed to supporting high quality research, investigation and public dialogue which improves the quality of education in the UK. That is why I am so pleased to have joined and be supporting the new Commission on Skills under Neil Carmichael. This work will build on the publication of Pearson’s recent ‘Future of Skills: Employment in 2030’ report which highlights the critical skills citizens will need in the challenging and evolving decades ahead.”

The Commission has made its first call for evidence and will be hosting a public session on ‘The future of the world of work’ on 11th June at London South Bank University, and a second on 21st June at the Festival of Education.

Read more information on these public sessions and the Commission


Notes to editors

About Pearson

Pearson is the world’s learning company, with expertise in educational courseware and assessment, and a range of teaching and learning services powered by technology. Our mission is to help people make progress through access to better learning. We believe that learning opens up opportunities, creating fulfilling careers and better lives. For more follow @Pearson_UK.

About Neil Carmichael

Neil Carmichael, Honorary Professor of Politics and Education, University of Nottingham, is Senior Adviser, PLMR, providing strategic advice and support across all sectors; Chief Education Consultant at Christine Lee & Co (solicitors); and, Senior Adviser at Wild Search. Neil is also Chair of the Board of FESTOMANE (Festival of Manufacturing and Engineering); Trustee, Sir Heinz Koeppler Trust – Wilton Park, promoting international peace and security; and, a member of the Advisory Board of the D Group, strategic advice and international network. He is now a Trustee of the Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation.

Neil was Member of Parliament for Stroud (2010-17), serving on the Education Select Committee throughout period and latterly as Chair. He established the All Parliamentary Party Group (APPG) on School Leadership and Governance, Chair of Vascular Disease APPG, producing influential reports on clinical methods and took the Antarctic Act 2013 through Parliament. Neil was Chair of the Conservative Group for Europe and is Director of Modern Europe.

Neil is writing a book - “Progressive, Productive, Proper: A new reform agenda for education” – to be published spring 2018 by John Catt Educational. He frequently appears on the media and regularly speaks on education, Europe and the environment.



Written evidence can be submitted to the commission by emailing

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