Learning for community, work and life

20 December 2013

The wide variety and scope of NIACE’s work is done with the ultimate goal of ensuring people have the opportunities to participate in learning to help them secure work, stay and flourish in their jobs; keep healthy and play a positive role in their communities and support their children and live fulfilling lives. This is even more important in the changing and challenging times we live in.

As an independent organisation NIACE has a unique position in the adult learning and skills landscape to represent the entire sector with no particular bias.

Working with a range of stakeholders, NIACE develops knowledge and understanding of adult learning in order to support and encourage:

  • Better practice through the development and sharing of best practice in the engagement and support of learners and the delivery of learning.
  • Better policy through improving the development and implementation of policies and by promoting awareness of the public value of adult learning.
  • The promotion of learning to individuals, employers and policy-makers through our campaigns and outreach work.

This work enables NIACE to perform a wide range of strategic and influential roles. For instance, we develop, manage and chair forums where an independent voice is essential. This includes the Young Adult Carers Forum, which was set up following a high-profile seminar chaired by HRH the Princess Royal and where a number of  government departments and sector leaders came together to address the priority issues for these young people.

We have performed a similar role with the National Older Learners Group, which we manage and co-ordinate by bringing together those working at a national level on research, policy and practice for offender learning, and acting as a conduit to the delivery of information back to government. 

Our unique position is further exemplified by our role in leading the Maths4Us initiative. This has involved working in partnership with more than 20 national organisations and utilising their individual expertise and specialisms to co-ordinate strategic action on adult maths through a range of high-profile and covert activities. The most high-profile of these activities during 2013 was the highly successful launch of the new maths app – Maths Everywhere.

Alongside the development of these new partnerships we have extended our influence in new areas for the organisation; for example, our strategic priority on learning in and for the workplace. We have been particularly vocal in our concerns about Advanced Learning Loans for Apprenticeships for people aged 24 and over, and we are pleased to hear confirmation that the Government is now ‘dropping’ this policy.

The Chief Executive of NIACE, David Hughes, said:

“Our research clearly shows that learning benefits not only individuals, but also the economy and society as a whole. Those who participate in learning are likely to be healthier, happier and better paid than those who do not. Unfortunately, participation and achievement in learning is too much influenced by class, age, employment status and prior learning and attainment. We know that when and where these inequalities are addressed, adults are empowered and inspired to take control of their lives. There is no better example of this than the inspirational stories of our Adult Learners’ Week award winners.

“The reality today for too many adults is that opportunities and support to learn are disappearing as funding is focused more and more on younger adults and those seeking work for the first time.  If we want to see a sustained economic recovery, vibrant and cohesive communities and adults inspiring the next generation to see learning as their way to a happier and more fulfilling future, decision-makers need to ensure that learning for adults, throughout their lives,  is at the heart of future policy.

“Our work will continue to grow ever more challenging as the pots of money for learning throughout life dwindle. We hope that you will be inspired to work with us to influence policy, advance practice and promote learning to ensure that adults in every corner of England and Wales have those fundamental opportunities to change their lives for the better.”