A report by the Learning and Work Institute found that 43% of adults had taken part in some form of education during the pandemic. Learning became more easily accessible online which meant that the rigid learning schedules that may have existed before lockdowns and the need to attend physical classes were removed. Organisations that furloughed staff encouraged learning and development, others decided to start upskilling or even retraining and some took part to stretch their minds or combat boredom. We also spoke to many professionals who had re-started their professional qualifications because suddenly they had more time on their hands, where work and ‘general life’ had been getting in the way. Whatever the reasons were the positive trend was started and so we decided to look into why adult education could be a great thing for you and your career and the wider community.
1. Fill the gaps of missed school education
Although most professionals we come into contact with have had a full education and often completed some form of higher education, it is a sad truth that that before the millennium at least 45% of people were leaving school without a grade C or above in Maths and English. Although most will be in employment and after a few roles this will not be holding them back, many people want to go back for either the satisfaction of gaining the grade or in the hope it will help them progress their careers.
2. Adult education can help keep up with changes in the world
We were already well into a ‘technological revolution’ but this has been accelerated by the pandemic. There are many adult courses on offer that will offer insights into the new technologies that are being more regularly used or to upskill those who already have a basic or intermediate understanding of them. The UK is suffering from severe skills shortages in many areas and adult learning could help fill many of them. As the world changes and technology advances, many jobs that used to exist are no longer necessary. Sadly, for many workers, this shows no sign of slowing down. Fortunately, adult education provides individuals with additional options. The ability to retrain quickly and efficiently will benefit the lives of many adults in the coming years. Adult college courses are also essential for individuals who dislike their current role and want to embark on a new path.
3. Professional qualifications are good for your career
Professional qualifications allow you to gain job-related skills, as well as refreshing and updating your knowledge. Completing a professional qualification allows you to expand your current knowledge which in turn can help you achieve promotions or new roles with more responsibilities and varied duties. You will also have the opportunity to learn completely new skills and gain more experience. Although you may already feel confident in your current abilities, having a professional qualification behind you will give your career an extra boost.
4. It is a good form of networking
Not only will you learn and develop, but it may open up more social experiences. If you enter into courses that relate to your current work, or work you want to get into, you are likely to start networking with ‘like-minded’ individuals who may become good contacts for your career. We often hear of people gaining new jobs from their own network, so meeting more people who are following a similar career path can only help.
5. Learning keeps the mind active
Studies have proven that maintaining an active mind can actually benefit mental health. Those who put their brain to use on a regular basis often find themselves benefiting from better memory, sharper reactions and greater attention spans. Keeping the mind active doesn’t have to be difficult either. Learning a new language or mastering a new skill can have countless mental benefits. Exercising the mind is just as important as exercising the body, and it’s just another reason why adult education should be valued and taken seriously.
6. Adult learning sets a good example to future generations
Often children see education as a chore that ends the minute they either finish school or graduate. However, if children witness their parents or role models embarking on continued adult educational journeys, they are more likely to see learning as a constant part of life. I remember seeing my Dad taking Open University Degrees when I was a child and my Mum start her CIMA qualification. Although I may not have realised it at the time I am sure that it helped increase my positivity towards learning and enhanced my work ethic.
7. Adult learning is good for the economy
The more educated population we have the better it is for the economy. If our workforce is made up of innovative individuals with more advanced skills, then we will be fit to deal with the country’s problems and be in a better position to develop solutions. Also, those with qualifications and skills are more likely to find work. This in turn will benefit the economy by reducing pressure on the benefits system. The lower the unemployment rate, the more money the country can invest in other things. For these reasons, adult learning is imperative for economic success.