Academic journal article Journal of Developmental Education

Revitalizing Adult Education in the UK

Academic journal article Journal of Developmental Education

Revitalizing Adult Education in the UK

Article excerpt

The number of adult learners has been declining for many years in the United Kingdom and diminished by 10.8% in 2014-2015; in addition, funding cuts for programs at further education colleges have paralleled the decline. According to Matt Bevington, a writer for the NewStatesman, cutting costs via neglecting to invest in adult education is poor economics.

Fie claims there are duo costs to the adult education reductions: They target individuals with only one viable path to improve skills, income, and standard of living and limit their opportunity to enter or advance in the labor market. Adult education students are disproportionately women, people with disabilities, single parents, and Black and minority ethnic groups (BMEs). Also, due to reductions changes in skill needs cannot be accommodated since there is less opportunity for adults to retool and meet labor requirements. Such a mismatch impedes "the movement of capital and labour towards their most productive uses" (para. 3).

Bevington points out the impact of limiting adult education opportunities in the UK on their GDP; detailing estimates from a consulting firm (McKinsey), he reports that workplace gender equality could increase GDP by as much as 25% in western Europe. Women's employment rate in the UK is approximately 10% below men's; similarly, the employment rate for BMEs is also about 10% under the national average. Since adult education is useful to and needed by these very groups, the link to labor and economic health is clear.

Student groups underrepresented in higher education in the UK-and in the U.S.-often access postsecondary learning via adult education. Courses offered in the evenings and part time in adult programs offer students with child care or health care requirements flexibility needed by nontraditional students. …

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