European & international

Our role as the UK National Coordinator for the European Agenda for Adult Learning

As the UK National Coordinator for the European Agenda for Adult Learning 2017-19, Learning and Work Institute has built on the work undertaken in 2012-14 , 2014-15, and 2015-17 and continues to contribute to the European Commission’s strategic priorities:

Making lifelong learning and mobility a reality; Improving the quality and efficiency of education and training; Promoting equity, social cohesion, and active citizenship; Enhancing creativity and innovation, including entrepreneurship, at all levels of education and training.Improving the knowledge base on adult learning and monitoring the adult learning sector

What we’re doing

Development Strands

On behalf of DFE and the European Commission for the European Union’s Agenda for Adult Learning we have delivered a programme of work around an ‘Inclusive Learning Pathways’ approach which spans the following themes:

  • Entry Pathways including Adult Basic Skills, and the wider outcomes of Family Learning
  • Progression Pathways including in-work progression and work with the most disadvantaged groups at risk of exclusion from the labour market
  • Engagement and Support including joint practice development.

These strands build on the previous programmes of work in 2014-15.


Entry Pathways

This programme strand builds on the development of the Citizens’ Curriculum approach to adult basic skills, which interlinks language, literacy, numeracy and digital skills with wider health, financial and civic capabilities. Work is ongoing to link the Citizens’ Curriculum approach with entry pathways using a ‘vocational plug-in’ model. This complements the entry pathway vocational learning with the basic and life skills learners need in order to progress.

Family Learning provision successfully engages and supports families which face social and economic disadvantage. Family learning has been shown to particularly successful in supporting parents and carers to increase their employability skills and progress to employment, as well as contribute to health and well-being and wider outcomes. Work is ongoing to collate existing research on the wider outcomes of family learning, its role in enabling engagement, entry and progression.

Progression Pathways

Many parts of the UK face challenges in recruiting and maintaining skilled staffing levels in growth sectors. Building on our existing work developing and evaluating approaches to in-work progression we have reviewed the evidence base and investigated successful approaches to sector-based skills and progressions initiatives and the UK and developed evidence-based models for promoting upskilling and in-work progression pathways for a range of sectors.

Throughout the UK, as spatial economies change, particular groups of workers are at greater risk of stagnant or declining incomes and potential future exclusion from the labour market through not being able to to take advantage of emerging opportunities. Building on our work developing and evaluating personalised support programmes facilitating in-work progression, this work highlights models of approaches to improving skills and earning among different groups across the UK.

Engagement and Support

Following the publication of our State of the Nation report (see below), we anticipated a number of challenges arising in terms of workforce development (for adult education teachers and managers). We have worked with UK partners to identify approaches that support the Inclusive Pathways approach contextualised for UK policy. A collaborative approach was adopted to understand and define new models of workforce development, involving experts with a wide range of experience and insights across different aspects of the subject. These models and approaches were discussed and debated at a summative conference in partnership with EPALE UK in October 2019.

Below are some resources including the conference delegate pack, which gives a broad outline of the programme ,together with more detailed conference presentations, and our Healthy, Wealthy and Wise report. The EPALE UK conference video gives a flavour of the highlights and our CEO Stephen Evans gives his thoughts to EPALE UK. A number of pre-conference blogs helped set the scene and promote further discussion.


Relevant resources

Impact Forums

Adult learning in the UK takes place within a devolved policy context, with Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England responsible for their own nation’s policy. L&W’s approach to coordination of the UK’s contribution to the European Agenda has been to enable sharing of best practice within the four devolved administrations and between them. We have therefore developed Impact Forums in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. These engage a range of policy makers, influencers and decision makers in capturing, sharing and highlighting a solid evidence base for Adult Learning policy development. They draw together, not only representatives who are interested in adult learning, but also those from diverse health sectors; those from different community interests and perspectives along with employers and representatives from business and commerce.

The forums are complemented by seminars, conferences and events which draw even wider audiences of policy makers and practitioners, in sharing research, evidence and experiences.  The four nations share policies and practices and there is emerging evidence of the impact on change in those administrations. The Impact Forums capture and record insights into policy and practice impact and use EPALE platforms to share them.

EPALE platform

2015-17 Programme Highlights

State of the Nations Report

In addition to the three themes in 2015-17 we  convened an expert group of researchers to oversee the compilation of a State of the Nations report. This  brought together national, international and regional research on adult learning on the impact of adult learning on health, work and communities, in order to influence policy makers and practitioners alike. The evidence in the draft research report was discussed and debated at a summative conference in partnership with EPALE UK in October 2017.


See the final research report, Healthy, Wealthy and Wise, and the published summary briefings for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Digital Skills for Under-represented Groups

This programme helped improve the digital skills of those niche groups by developing a fully trialled CPD programme to support adult educators in the four UK nations to better use technology to support under-represented groups.

Adult Basic Skills

Read our Citizens’ Curriculum 2017 Evaluation Report

Young Adults Employability

This programme strand contributed to key national priorities of youth employment and social inclusion through a young-people led research model called ‘What Employers Want’.
A group of smiling young people of different ethnic backgrounds sit and stand around a computer monitor

Who we're working with

We’re working with partners and stakeholders across the UK – with representation from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – and Europe sharing good practice policy messages between member states. We are partnering with Scotland Learning Partnership, Forum for Adult Learning NI, Ecorys and are co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union. We continue to work with EPALE EU and EPALE UK. We also use high-profile platforms like Festival of Learning and are engaging UK politicians and policy-makers through face-to-face meetings, seminars, published documents, social media and large-scale conferences.
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  • Learning and Work Institute logo in Welsh
  • Blue logo with EU gold stars and the words Co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union
  • Blue curved logo of Scotland's Learning Partnership wrapped around a green and purple thistle
  • Black on white Forum for Adult Learning NI logo with NI in gold