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Organisation set to hold conference on rural communities

The UK’s rural communities are feeling the effects of demographic, social and economic changes at an increasing rate, according to an adult learning organisation.

The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) is hosting a conference, entitled “Adult Learning in Rural Communities”, to be held at the “Megacentre” in Sheffield [Wednesday 15th November], to entertain means on how to overcome these challenges and how adult learning can make a positive contribution towards solving them.

The conference will also explore the benefits of higher education in rural areas in order to redress the balance from the demands of economic expansion, social inclusion and environmental protection.

Professor Bill Jones, NIACE Development Officer for Higher Education, said: “Many rural areas have a higher age profile, and a low skill/low pay culture, as young people leave for the opportunities of the urban world”.

“A significant challenge is that rural policy ignores learning and education policy ignores rurality. However adult learning does have an important role to play in helping to equip rural communities, employers and individuals to meet the challenges of change in effective, sustainable and creative ways”.

The findings of a range of innovative research and development projects will be presented to enable delegates to reflect upon and develop their own practice for rural development, while the keynote address will be from Margaret Clark, the Director of the Commission for Rural Communities.

Professor Jones added: “Migration to the countryside is growing ““ by city workers, retired professionals, and by overseas workers. Restructuring of the rural economy is having profound social and environmental consequences and provision of key services is increasingly patchy, as providers withdraw from rural locations”.

“This conference should make an important and distinctive contribution to the escalating debate about the “state of the countryside”.

Tiffany Dickinson.

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