National policy and Community Learning Trust

 In Spring 2011, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) held a series of stakeholder meetings in order to consider  proposals for maximising the impact for non-formal learning for adults. In December 2011 The Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) published ‘New Challenges, New Chances Further Education and Skills System Reform Plan: building a world class skills system’.   New objectives were introduced in August 2012 and focus on:

  • Using public funding to support disadvantaged people to learn and progress
  • Involving local people and organisations in decisions about the local offer
  • Maximising value for money for the taxpayer by increasing income generation and using it to extend provision for people who can’t afford to pay

From discussions with a wide range of stakeholders during this review it became clear that a ‘one size fits all’ approach would not work for community learning.  Currently, there are 15 Community Learning Trust (CLT) Pilots which are testing different approaches throughout England – Brighton & Hove being one of these.

 The proprieties of the CLT have informed the Brighton & Hove Adult Learning Strategy and will continue to have an impact on adult learning in the City for the foreseeable future. There is currently a commitment to £ 210M nationally for 2013-14, and pilots for Community Learning Trusts will continue to develop a community led model working in partnership with statutory bodies and agencies to maximise the social return on investment whilst streamlining operational costs. The Brighton and Hove Community Learning Trust hopes to demonstrate transformational change in the way adult community learning is delivered by engaging non statutory partners who work with learners furthest away from education economically, socially and culturally.

 Changes in the local community

 Evidence from BHLIS (Brighton & Hove Local Information Services)* shows that those with low skills are being squeezed out of the labour market. These residents are facing increasing pressure in competing for work across the city because of a scarcity of appropriate jobs; competition from those with higher qualifications; and competition from other groups including students and migrant workers. As a result, the employment rate is poor for those with low or no skills (at 53%, a third lower than the Brighton average). Economic activity rates for this group are also low. These are the very residents that this strategy aims to reach and support.

The large number of graduates and residents with high level qualifications masks the number of residents with very low skills: more than 40,000 individuals aged between 16 and 74 hold no qualifications and almost 12,000 lack basic literacy skills and 60,000 lack basic numeracy skills.

 According to the 2011 Census, for more than one in twenty residents their day to day activities are ‘limited a lot’ due to a long term health problem or disability; For one in twelve residents aged three or over, English is not their first or preferred language.

Many of these residents are at risk of labour market exclusion and may face multiple barriers to labour market entry. It is widely recognised that tackling multiple labour market disadvantage is  required  providing first rung outreach services in non-traditional, community settings that will help to develop the skills and confidence of disadvantaged residents so that they can compete for jobs in the wider labour market. Appropriate jobs at the right level are scarce; for example competition from other groups including students and migrant workers.  As a result, the employment rate is poor for those with low or no skills (at 53%, a third lower than the Brighton average). Economic activity rates for this group are also low. 

The Adult Learning Strategy is cross-cutting, supporting many of the city’s strategic priorities and aims to strengthen communities, develop individuals, support families and enhance options for work and volunteering.

 *(www.bhlis.org accessed 15 May 2013)