Quantity of people learning in decline, survey finds
The amount of young people taking part in learning has fallen by seven per cent in the last year, according to the annual NIACE adult participation in learning survey.
Ahead of Adult Learners' Week next week, The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education's yearly report has shown a decline in the number of people aged 17-to 24 taking part in learning. There has also been a fall of six per in the proportion of unemployed people participating in learning.
Introducing the findings, David Hughes, chief executive of NIACE, said: "What is particularly worrying is the fall in the number of young people who are taking part in, or even considering, learning. If these young people can't see the positive impact learning can have on their lives then it suggests a 'creeping hopelessness' amongst them which could have lifetime consequences on their confidence, self esteem and life chances. Add this to the increasing number of those who are not in learning who say they will not learn in future and the picture looks extremely bleak indeed. We look forward to seeing what impact the raising of the participation age to 18 has on this.
While the headline figures show no change in the overall level of participation from last year's findings - around one in five (19 per cent) adults are currently learning, and two in five (38 per cent) have done so in the last three years - the survey for 2013 shows that:
• There has been a substantial fall - of nine per cent (from 88 to 79 per cent) - in the number of young adults (aged 17- to 19) participating in learning;
• There is also a fall of five percentage points in learning for those aged 20- to 24 from 70- to 65 per cent;
• The proportion of unemployed adults taking part in learning has fallen by 6 percentage points from 41 to 35 per cent, the lowest level since the survey series began in 1996;
• There has been an increase in participation among part-time workers - from 42 per cent in 2012 to 48 per cent this year - who are now more likely to participate than those working full-time (44 per cent); and
• Current participation in learning remains a key indicator of future intentions to learn. Over four-fifths (83 per cent) of those who have not taken part in learning since leaving full-time education say they are unlikely to do so in the future.
"There needs to be an effective strategy to reverse the big decline in the numbers of young people who are learning. For a start it is great news to see the impact Apprenticeships are having on people of all ages. We are also pleased that Traineeships have been announced for 16- to 18 year-olds but they need to be extended to, at least, those aged up to 24.
He added: "The Government needs to do two things to make sure Traineeships work. Firstly, high quality work placement opportunities are crucial. Secondly, young people need to be able to either access benefits, or be paid a wage, whilst on Traineeships. We are also calling on employers to play their part in this. Young people deserve the kind of opportunities which will motivate them and help them gain the skills, confidence and ambition they need to overcome the hopelessness they may be feeling that there aren't jobs for them."