From education to employment

Adult learners: A chance to voice what really matters

The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) is giving adult learners the chance to have their say about the future of informal learning through a survey launched from 2 April to 31 October as part of a government review.

These responses will help decide how public money is spent in local areas and determine the type of learning opportunities made available for informal adult community learning (IACL).

Jane Ward, programme manager at NIACE, said: “There is a real opportunity for individuals across the sector to influence policy regarding the future of informal adult community learning and we urge learning providers and others in the sector to encourage and support people in accessing and completing the survey.”

Ward added that “this is big society in action”, and she is hoping for a huge response to how much people value adult learning.

NIACE believes that tackling the ‘digital divide’ is central to achieving the big society, enabling local people to have a greater say over the decisions and services that affect their quality of life. Official figures show that 8.7 million adults in the UK (over a fifth of the population) have never been online. Almost half of these are disabled and 39 per cent are over 65 years old. Some 38 per cent them are unemployed and 19 per cent are in families with children.
Courses within the IACL range from structured courses taught by a qualified teacher, one off sessions, independent online learning and learning groups organised by learners themselves. This provides adults who are new to FE the opportunity to pursue vocational courses, volunteering and community action as well as employment and self employment.

The survey is sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), which will be launching a broader consultation aimed at organisations, such as education providers and employers, later this month.

Ben Spencer

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