Foreword by Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Higher Education and Further Education, Youth Employment and Training
Adult learning plays a vital role in helping us to succeed in being the country we want to be – fairer, greener, and more prosperous. As we work towards making Scotland a land of opportunity for everyone this strategy represents an important moment towards ensuring that inclusive and equitable quality education, whether formal or informal, is available to anyone of any age in Scotland. As our first adult learning strategy it has ambitious and bold actions to remove barriers to learning, enabling more adults to begin and continue their learning journeys.
I want adult learning in Scotland to focus on learners' goals and hopes for the future, to build on the strengths, experiences and skills that they already have to improve their life chances.
This strategy sets out the Scottish Government's ambition for creating new and increased positive pathways in collaboration with community-based adult learners. I know that inspirational work already takes place across Scotland to realise aspirations that are important to our adult learners and their communities. I want us to develop this work by working flexibly with adult learners on the pathways that they need to flourish and succeed. To do so, all those involved in creating a more responsive and coherent education system will need to work closely together so that support is provided at each stage of an individual's learning journey to help them achieve their potential.
It is my hope that adult learners furthest from learning and experiencing disadvantage will have more accessible learning opportunities that will help make Scotland a more equal and inclusive society. The strategy outlines important next steps required to create these opportunities and starts further collaboration with adult learners to address and tackle the inequalities that have been made worse by the pandemic.
The Adult Learning Strategy contributes to our national mission to tackle child poverty by ensuring that parents – both in and out of work – are able to access the skills they need to progress in their career. Its actions to increase accredited learning and connect community-based adult learners with employability services will help to increase incomes from work and earnings. I want parents experiencing poverty to have the adult learning opportunities that they need.
Building a wellbeing economy which secures sustainable, inclusive growth for everyone in all parts of Scotland is at the heart of our actions to increase access to accredited learning and strengthen connections with employability services. I want all to play a role in ensuring that adult learners most impacted by the pandemic and existing inequalities can secure good and fair work. This requires sharing and promoting good practice and learning from each other to deliver better outcomes for adult learners.
By working with adult learners to achieve their ambitions and working together across boundaries, the strategy can help to secure an economic recovery which is green and fair with an enduring impact on the lives of adult learners who face inequalities.
There is a lot of work to be done to measure the impact that community-based adult learning has on our adult learners. To move forward with this, the strategy calls on all partners to work collectively to develop coherent and consistent data and measurements for impact. Work will also begin at pace to develop a robust framework to evaluate the implementation of this strategy and the impact of it on adult learners.
I am both delighted and proud to be publishing this strategy and remain grateful to the Adult Learning Strategic Forum for Scotland who have guided the development of the strategy and worked in partnership with us to co-produce it. I want adult learners to be at the centre of the strategy's delivery and the development of a national Adult Learners Advisory Group will ensure that their voices and experiences are forefront in carrying out the strategy's actions and future work.
This strategy will be followed by the Youth Work Strategy, which, in tandem with this one, will continue to strengthen Community Learning and Development in Scotland. I am excited by the implementation of both these strategies that reflect the key role that both Adult Learning and Youth Work, as part of Community Learning and Development, play in developing an equitable and sustainable education system.
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