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Half-a-Million Miss Out on Learning


Half a million adults were “lost to learning” in the past year, the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) claims.

Drawing on the findings of its annual Adult Learners’ Week, NIACE made the estimate based on the fact that the proportion of adults currently learning, in the lifelong learning sector, or having done so in the last three years has fallen to 41%.

The Road to Nowhere? survey, which focuses on LSC-funded courses, found that a third of all adults (34%) have done no learning whatsoever since leaving full-time education and that no significant progress has been made to encourage those adults who left school earliest and those who are amongst the poorest in society to engage in learning. In fact overall participation of poorer people is around half that experienced by the upper and middle classes (27% of DEs compared with 55% of ABs and 48% of C1s).

Ther survey found a marked reduction in participation by people in employment and, in particular, by part-time workers. There is a loss of 8% of part-time workers learning in a single year (from 55% to 47%).

Alan Tuckett, Director of NIACE and co-author of the survey, said, “The most worrying finding of this survey is the number of part-time workers engaged in learning, an 8% drop in one year. Yet the Government is really keen to rebalance learning to make sure people in the workforce learn. So something isn’t going right with public policy. It suggests that either public money is squeezing out private money that was there before or the end of short courses has particularly affected part-time workers.”

He added: “The Government’s sharply rebalanced public funding for adult learning is at the expense of many people participating. It’s offering more to smaller numbers. Is that the right balance to have achieved? We’re convinced of the necessity for more public investment in adult learning, what we need is more learning opportunities and not the loss of half a million learners in just one year. Adult Learners’ Week can provide the motivation – it’s up to Government to ensure there are enough opportunities.”


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