NIACE´s annual survey of current and recent adult participation in learning is bad news for anyone over the age of 25 trying to improve their prospects through learning, especially men, older people, the least skilled and those outside the labour market.
These are the main findings of the 2011 survey, which is published today ahead of the 20th Adult Learners´ Week which starts tomorrow, Saturday 14 May 2011. The number of adults who have taken part in learning over the last three years has fallen from 43 per cent in 2010 to 39 per cent.
At a time when provision for young adults (aged 17-24) is increasing, the key findings from the survey include:
The decline in participation has not been accompanied by a decline in people´s belief that learning makes a positive difference to their life chances:
Alan Tuckett, Chief Executive of NIACE, said, "If Britain is to recover economically it has to invest in the whole of its workforce not just the young. If the news here is good for the youngest adults, it´s very tough for older people in the workforce and out of it."
"Participation among the over 65s has fallen dramatically - over a quarter of learning opportunities for older adults have been lost. Learning has a positive impact on health, independence, and general well-being in later life. With an ageing labour force we need to encourage people to prolong their active working and learning lives, reducing learning opportunities will hardly help with the well-being or work-readiness of Britain´s third age adults."
"But overall, the most concerning aspects of this year´s survey are the lowest ever figures of participation for men and for the least skilled and those outside the labour market. When you take these findings, with the reported decline in people´s intentions to take up learning in the future, you have a fundamental challenge for policy makers, employers and providers. We won´t have a learning society unless everyone takes their share of responsibility to create it."