From education to employment

Calling on nominations for the Inspire! Adult Learning Awards  

Calling on nominations for the Inspire! Adult Learning Awards  

Nominations are now open for the national Inspire! Adult Learning Awards. Organisers, Learning and Work Institute are looking for inspirational adult learners, community projects and organisations delivering life-changing opportunities across Wales.

The awards are a celebration of the transformational power of adult learning and skills and demonstrate the impact of lifelong learning. A range of categories are open for individual nominations, as well as community projects and workplace skills. The closing date for entries is 12 April 2024.

Inspire! Award categories for 2024 have been announced:

  • Skills for Work: for individuals who have enhanced their employability or career prospects through learning and training opportunities.
  • Young Adult Learner: for inspiring young adults (aged 19-24) who have used learning to overcome challenges or achieve personal goals.
  • Life Change & Progression: for individuals who have used learning to navigate significant life changes or career change to progress personally or professionally.
  • Ageing Well: for older adults who have embraced learning to stay active, engaged, and connected to their communities.
  • Starting Out – Welsh Beginner: for those starting their journey to embrace the Welsh language, recognising the progress they’ve made and the wider impact.
  • Different Past: Shared Futures: to recognise the achievements and contribution of migrants and refugees who have made a home in Wales, whilst overcoming past challenges and adversity.
  • Essential Skills for Life: for individuals who have developed essential skills such as literacy, numeracy, or digital skills to improve their personal and professional life.
  • Hywel Francis Award for Community Impact: for community projects or organisations that have used learning to create positive change within their communities, creating opportunities and providing steps back into learning.
  • Workplace Change Makers: for organisations or projects delivering innovation in workplace learning or providing opportunities to gain skills for work and progression at work.

This year’s awards will see a special Lifetime Achievement Award to recognise individuals who have made a significant and lasting impact on lifelong learning in Wales. If you know someone who deserves this honour, contact Learning and Work Institute directly.

John Gates was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2023. His life was dominated by mining for 19 years but when it all disappeared, he embarked on a remarkable journey of self-reinvention. John had left school in 1956 with no qualifications but then in the 1990’s he graduated from the Open University in his forties and gained a PGCE so he could embark on a new career as an educator. Lifelong learning has taken John around the world, and he has recently taken up the position of Chairman of a Men’s Shed. Now in his eighties he continues to embrace new opportunities to learn and share his knowledge.

John says: “I take a lot of pleasure from talking to and inspiring others. The most important thing about my story is how much I’ve enjoyed learning. Education is an adventure; when you start down that path you never know where it’ll take you.”

Kay Smith, Head of Campaigns and Policy at Learning and Work Institute said:
“The Inspire! Awards are a celebration of the people who have transformed their lives, and those who go further to create new ways of learning to reach deeper into communities or plug gaps in provision. We know that once learning re-starts it can ignite a thirst for more, it provides more than a qualification, it creates activists, it provides the tools to manage health and wellbeing, it broadens horizons and understanding of different people and cultures, it provides hope and opportunities for better lives.”

In 2023, the Vale People First Men’s Group nominated by Adult Learning Wales, was awarded the Essential Skills for Life category award. The group run weekly sessions from a community centre in Barry, and give members the opportunity to gain qualifications, make new friends, and discuss issues that are important to them in a safe space

Mark Tierney, a member of the group, couldn’t read or write when he first joined the group but has since learnt and is now employed as the group’s health and wellbeing officer. He said: “I have been a part of Men’s group from the beginning, and I love it. I can read and write now, and I have a job with the group. You are never too old to learn and it’s better when you can have fun at the same time. I used to feel miserable, and I used to moan a lot but now I’m always happy.”

Visit our YouTube channel to view the stories of our Inspire! 2023 award winners.

You have until the 12th April 2024 to submit a nomination, visit Learning and Work Institute’s website to make an entry. Don’t miss this opportunity to recognise the impactful and inspiring stories of lifelong learning happening in workplaces, colleges, universities, and communities across Wales.

For more information about the Inspire! Adult Learning Awards nominations, contact: Nisha Patel, Campaigns, Marketing and Communications Officer, Learning and Work Institute: [email protected]

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