City Lit Blog

City Lit welcomes Nesta report on adult learning

Story added 12th Feb 2020


In a time of rapidly changing developments in new technology, there has never been a more important role for adult education, both in the capital and nationwide. This week’s Education for All report by Nesta explores questions such as: How has employment changed over time in the UK, and what are the implications for adult learning?; And what is the role of employers in adult learning and education?

Download the full report here

Phil Chamberlain, Executive Director External Engagement at City Lit commented: ''We welcome this report by Nesta identifying opportunities to improve the UK adult learning system. Despite huge disparities in adult learning across the UK as well as between different social and economic groups, our resolve in providing adults the opportunity to pursue their ambitions must not waver. As well as ongoing transitions in the job market, we believe there has never been a more important place in society for adult learning.

Tens of thousands of Londoners of varying ages, backgrounds and ability levels study with us each year, all motivated by different ambitions, however grand or small. They all share the same common goal: a desire for self-improvement and self-actualisation. We are living and working longer, so the place of learning throughout life is more important than ever. It doesn’t matter which of life’s transitions you are going through; fulltime education to the world of work; changing careers; personal circumstances; or moving from work to an active retirement; education is a crucial enabler to ensuring success in those transitions.

We work hard to ensure that barriers are reduced wherever possible, and ensure we offer high-quality courses, excellent tutors, with an affordable and flexible approach – with both short and longer-term courses; in mornings, daytime, evenings and weekends.''

Key findings of the Nesta report include:

Rise of the service economy:

Since the information and telecommunications revolution, the share of the service sector in total employment has increased significantly and the direct production of goods has been replaced by the production of knowledge-based and in-person services. This structural transformation has led to a marked concentration of economic activity in particular regions, worsening regional inequalities and increasing the importance of lifelong learning.

Growing inequality:

There are huge disparities in adult learning across the UK and between different social and economic groups. The huge differences in participation across the country are most keenly felt within individual regions. London has the greatest variation in participation of any region. Non-participants in adult learning tend to fall into one or more of three groups: the elderly; those with low levels of education; and the unemployed. The participation rate for those aged 25-34 in the UK was 60.3 per cent compared to 39 per cent for those aged 55-64. For adults with tertiary-level education, the participation rate was around 68.1 per cent, while the rate for less qualified adults was only 28.1 per cent.

Industry plays a critical role:

Participation in adult education and training is mostly non-formal, job-related and employersponsored. 41.3 per cent of adults participated in job-related education, which is equivalent to approximately 80 per cent of participation in total adult learning (ALE) activities. However, the training efforts of many employers remain focused on young and highly skilled employees, increasing existing inequalities across individuals.


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