What is the purpose of Lifelong Learning today?
Lifelong learning is the concept that learning and opportunities can go beyond that of compulsory education, as well as traditional routes both academic and vocational. With ever expanding economic growth and globalization the need for new skills is more prominent and lifelong learning and adult education is seen to have become a governmental response to socio-economic inequality, the financial crisis as well as the growing competition within industry both nationally and internationally. The notion of lifelong learning also presents itself as a “trinity… of Lifelong learning, the learning organization and the learning of society as a whole” (Hughes and Tight 1995 as cited by Tight 2010 pg. 254) suggesting that lifelong learning does not just present benefits for an individual, but is itself is part of a much bigger picture in the development of society. This being said, with a youth unemployment rate of 21% and a national unemployment rate of 7.7% (Parliament statistics, 2013). It is worth questioning whether or not the measures in place for lifelong learning are significant enough to deal with the growing issues in Britain. With these principles in mind, the body of this essay will look at, and discuss lifelong learning in regards to the 14-19 demographic and explore the opportunities and barriers generated within contemporary lifelong learning provision and practice.
Years 14 to 19 are the transition stages of a student from the end of their compulsory study based of the guidelines set by the national curriculum, to other learning styles that aid the pathways to higher education, training, employment and further life long learning. This than allows students to gain the necessary qualifications which form a foundation for their future learning and careers.
According to a policy statement by the national union of teachers (2008) the educational stage of 14 -19 should be broad and be a balance between academic knowledge as well as more vocational and applies learning. The statement suggests that reform should alleviate all the barriers of access and eliminate inequality within the education system , be it gender, ethnicity, class, disability or any other underlining factors to encourage wider participation. As of 2013, government policy has tried to reflect this need for widened participation by raising the school leaving age. This means that if you start year 11 in September 2013 later you have to remain in education until the age of 18. This policy also highlights the governments awareness for a need in varied learning pathways defining “education” as full time education, apprenticeship and training or full time employment ( Government Education Department, 2013). This policy however is not the governments first in life long learning, with one of the earlier releases being the Kennedy report (1997) which proposed that there should be a livelong entitlement to accessing education as well as being...