Big or small your story is worth sharing. Community is at the heart of EPALE (https://ec.europa.eu/epale/en), the Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe, and we strive to create an environment for the exchange of best practice and sharing of adult learning content. It is a multilingual open membership community for teachers, trainers, researchers, academics, policy makers and anyone else with a professional role in adult learning from Europe.
EPALE has been developed as a result of an ongoing commitment by the European Commission to improve the quality of adult learning provision in Europe. By developing content around pan-European initiatives and themed weeks, adult learning professionals have a variety of news, blog posts, resources, events and courses to find.
More recently across Europe we celebrated the first European Vocational Skills Week with one of the highlights being the Adult Skills Conference, a two day event focusing on the European Commissions Skills Guarantee (http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=1224). The initiative ‘Upskilling Pathways’ is a welcome step in the right direction by those involved within adult education to help support adults acquire the necessary level of literacy, numeracy and digital skills to progress. In England alone 9 million adults of working age have low basic skills and there has been a rise amongst UK employers concerned that they will be unable to recruit enough high-skilled employees; the provision of adult education has never been more important.
EPALE’s digital community is bringing people together, raising awareness and providing communities of practice (https://ec.europa.eu/epale/en/communities-of-practice) to discuss topics such as basic skills as well as accredited learning and CPD. By sharing with colleagues not just in the UK but across Europe organisations and individuals are seeing the benefits of closer collaboration and the value of sharing best practices.
In November this value was brought together by the UK National Support Service for EPALE at the EPALE IN ACTION ( https://ec.europa.eu/epale/en/blog/epaleinaction-bringing-e-community-life) conference. Delegates, new and existing users to EPALE, came together in Birmingham to discuss transferable resources, partnerships/collaborations and thematic discussions. The conference was a reflection of EPALE, incorporating the adult learning priorities from across the four nations: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Each delegate brought a new dimension to the conference with their own unique experience and story to share. Speakers from the Tinder Foundation, National Museums Northern Ireland, European Basic Skills Network, Learning and Work Institute, WEA and National Reading Agency, to name a few, gave delegates fresh perspectives and new ideas.
The conference highlighted the importance of adult education to individuals and the role in which learner stories can have in encouraging participation. Accredited training and educational courses can support the upskilling and professional development of an individual. It can increase their motivation, self-esteem and future employment opportunities. The impact is not just on the individual; employers increase the number of skilled workers and this has a positive impact on the economy.
EPALE continues to promote the benefits and importance of adult education in the UK and Europe. The UK National Support Service continues to seek examples of best practice, adult education case studies and practical resources to support adult learning professionals.
If you are interested in getting involved visit EPALE: https://ec.europa.eu/epale/