Getting policymakers on board

Getting policymakers on board
The Learning Challenge – Narative
More and more often you find that in policy discourse, adult learning is considered as a quick solution to economic problems; adults are expected to upskill and reskill and little attention is paid to the reason why they are consistently out ot education and employment. Most of the funding that your organisation receives is project-based and while you would like to spend more resources on building a good outreach strategy: mapping the community and their needs, investing in targeted community-based measures – this is close to impossible with your current budget and in the policy framework that you are bound by. What can you do as an adult education provider to get the policy support for outreach work that you very much need?

Solving the Problem

Suggestion 1

Policymakers would like to see a return on their investment – can they see the benefits of outreach work, or of adult learning more broadly? Think about the different ways in which you could highlight these benefits. How can you collect learners’ positive experiences and make them visible?

Suggestion 2

It’s difficult to make your voice heard if you act alone. Who could support you in promoting the benefits of investment in adult learning? Think about your partners at the level where you are working, e.g. community centres, social services, employers, other adult education providers. Perhaps there are new partnerships that you can establish?

Solving the Problem – Discussing with educators

How do you collect and share information about learners’ experiences and the benefits of learning? Think about the information that you have already, the tools that you are using and what you could do more. Some ways of sharing learners’ success stories might be relatively easy to carry out, such as social media posts. Perhaps you will find that you manage to use learner voices in a wider campaign targeting policymakers, or even showcase them during a learning festival and invite policymakers to join in.
Stakeholder mapping is a useful exercise to see who else you can cooperate with, and who would be most valuable as an ally. There are different tools that you can use to support you in the exercise, e.g. positioning stakeholders according to their power and influence, or how likely they are to support you.

Points for Discussion with Policy Makers

Adult learning can bring a number benefits to learners’ personal and professional times, ultimately impacting both societies and economies. However, to invest better in adult learning we need to understand these benefits more comprehensively. Current research on participation is almost exclusively short-term: learners are interviewed about barriers to learning or their recent experiences, but they are not tracked throughout the years which would help to better understand how adult learning have shaped them. Longitundial research is needed to ensure that adult learning policies and consequently adult learning provision are adequate especially for the most disadvantaged learners.