For Adult Learners Week 2021, we sat down with Dewi Richards-Darch, Itec’s Curriculum Coordinator, to discuss the importance of lifelong learning.

Why is adult learning important?

As an individual I never truly developed my skills and abilities until much later in life. I recognized that mainstream schooling or college didn’t realistically cater to my needs or growth. Getting older and entering adulthood allowed me to take charge and make decisions on how, what, and where I wanted to learn.

Adult learning gives you a variety of options and opportunities that you may not have been fortunate enough to receive when you were younger. It can help you take charge of the direction that you want to go, giving you choices and allowing you to make your own decision with regards to learning and which methods best suit your own individual needs.

The world is currently changing at a rapid pace. The range of adult learning opportunities now available, can help you keep up with global changes and trends, and will make you a far more attractive prospect to new or existing employers.

What are the key elements of effective learning as an adult?

Inclusive Learning – Adult learning is inclusive. It focuses on you, respecting and valuing your contributions and input towards learning. It allows you to feel as though you are part of something rather than just a passenger in a car you are steering, adult learning helps change and support the direction that you’re moving in.

Transference – This recognizes that the skills you are learning are transferable to many different areas, industries, including a variety of tasks. It highlights how you can learn to recognize transferable skills and therefore become an adaptable and resilient person.

Flexibility – Knowing that you can learn in a flexible and supportive environment and making sure that your learning fits efficiently around your personal life; ensuring it doesn’t start to feel like an onerous task.

Motivation – Motivation plays a large part allowing you to engage and sustain a healthy learning routine. Being motivated enough to take the first step is usually the most difficult. Overcoming the fear of the unknown is the biggest step you can take on your journey, once this has been fulfilled, anything is achievable.

How can Itec help adults find full-time employment?

Itec help adults find full time employment through a range of sources and support. A modern website has been adapted to host a range of opportunities, all made possible through funding and learning opportunities such as Jobs Growth Wales and the Apprenticeships.

Itec supports and engages with 1000’s of adult learners through our ESP, Jobs Growth Wales, Apprenticeships and the Restart Scheme.

Each program supports learners with specific learning and employment needs. Although all program is different, one main principle remains the same and is embedded within each one. This being that the learner is central to the program and that their needs are met on an individual basis; whether this be 1:1 support to overcome barriers, or even by meeting specific and personalized learning goals.

By treating all learners with respect and valuing their differences we can help people get to where they want to be and ensure each personal goal is achieved.

Name 5 reasons to get back into learning as an adult

  1. To build your confidence and enhance your prospects of new and exciting job opportunities.
  2. Learning is a positive change and can help improve your personal happiness and wellbeing.
  3. Learning in a diverse and inclusive environment is highly beneficial and allows you to work with a wide variety of individuals.
  4. You’re never too old to learn a new trick. It’s healthy to challenge yourself and thrive by developing your skills and abilities.
  5. It’s an old cliché but learning really is fun and rewarding!

What does the future of adult learning look like?

Adult learning has already begun changing and developing in line with opportunities; to allow learning through blended strategies to become the new norm since the Covid outbreak. Technology has developed significantly over the past year with updated conference software, making everything much more accessible to the everyday user.

We are already seeing the benefits of this with a greater reach, creating inclusive digital classrooms and tearing down geographical barriers where individuals are now able to work from home. People are now able to apply for jobs where transport was previously a barrier.

The future of adult learning is going to include more up to date technology and software packages. With the daily development of software and hardware, it’s crucial that this doesn’t just end up as an add on; but something that is integrated and is demonstrated to be beneficial to the daily user.

With workplaces adopting mixed reality, developments in VR and AR are coming to the market designed for classroom simulation activities; this allows the users to demonstrate competence in core hands on activities. The use of VR and AR allow for users to connect globally and meet in others virtually.

The use of technology and conferencing software will continue to break down physical and logistical barriers in association with learning, allowing for development and ensuring an inclusive dynamic within a diverse learning environment.