As head of the WEA, Simon Parkinson directs strategy across England and Wales. Raising the aspiration and educational opportunities for the most disadvantages has been the crux of his career. For nearly seventeen years, he worked at Mencap, the charity dedicated to improving the educational opportunities and employability of those with learning disabilities. In comments to the TES in 2020, he spoke of the need to move beyond the narrow understanding of workplace skills that characterise the current job market. He said that allowing for opportunities beyond vocational training schemes and apprenticeships will help employers recruit a more effective workforce.