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Research into “Rejectors” of Learning


Disadvantaged 19-24 year olds, especially those from ethnic minorities, feel like a “lost generation” when it comes to employment and learning opportunities, according to research by the Campaign for Learning and Ufi.

The research, First Steps into Learning, found that young adults who show no interest in engaging with learning feel too young to have gained vital experience, and too old to have benefited from changes to school vocational qualifications and apprenticeships.

It also showed that those classified as “rejectors” of learning lack clear motivational goals, seek to avoid repeating negative school learning experiences, and often look for instant gratification in their life choices.

The “rejector” group constitutes 16% of the adult population and includes certain young adults, mothers of young children and over 50s - who experience both practical and, often, emotional barriers to taking the first steps into learning opportunities.

This group, who generally have few qualifications, are left out in the cold as far as learning goes and government targeted learning campaigns largely fail to engage them, the paper states.

The research demonstrated that individuals from these ‘hard to reach’ groups are more likely to engage with learning if it is offered in bite-sized chunks in an informal environment and does not require a long-term commitment.

However as their motivation to learn comes from tangible outcomes, for example earning more money, finding a better job or improving the lives of their children, they also want this flexible learning to lead to recognised qualifications.

In the light of the research findings the Campaign for Learning and Ufi recommended that:
* The Government should speed up the creation of a credit framework which fully incorporates bite-sized learning, enabling the accumulation of credits towards recognised qualifications from a wider range of courses.
* A variety of learning styles should be offered for all adult learning to persuade this group that learning does not have to be like school.
* The current adult Information, Advice and Guidance service should be strengthened and tailored to local community needs.
* Agencies working to promote learning should take account of the learning motivation model, and should ensure that marketing campaigns are tailored to appeal specifically to target audiences

Susie Parsons, Chief Executive of the Campaign for Learning, said: “When people are really switched off from learning and feel it’s not for them, we need to make it easy for them to switch back on. This involves persuasive information about the benefits, good support, and informal, non-threatening bite-size learning opportunities.”

The research, conducted by Incepta Marketing Intelligence for the Campaign for Learning, with support from the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) and Ufi, looked at ways to influence learning “rejectors”.

It questioned those turned off by learning about the factors that encourage and discourage them to learn.


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