Lloyds Banking Group and WEA Parliamentary Reception with APPG for Adult Education

A celebratory event took place yesterday at the Churchill Room in the House of Commons, marking the 4th anniversary of the WEA and Lloyds Banking Group partnership. Members of the APPG for Adult Education and other Parliamentarians, senior staff from Lloyds Banking Group and the WEA, guests from across the education and voluntary sector and, most importantly, students, tutors and volunteers attended the event.

The event was sponsored by Chi Onwurah MP, the Chair of the APPG for Adult Education who opened the event with the first speech. Further speeches included Antonio Lorenzo, Chief Executive, Scottish Widows and Ruth Spellman, CEO of the WEA. Phillip Grant, Managing Director Customer and Business Risk, Lloyds Banking Group, hosted a Q&A with a fellow colleague and volunteer, Tracy Jeffery and WEA tutor, Jane Walton to discuss the benefits to both volunteer and student and why this partnership is so successful for both organisations. 

Lloyds Banking Group partnered with the WEA in 2014 to offer skills based volunteering to LBG colleagues in WEA classrooms. A great opportunity for colleagues and WEA students alike, which has enabled over 800 Lloyds colleagues to support more than 3,000 students developing their reading, writing, digital skills, confidence and employability. Of those, more than 350 WEA students have developed their digital skills with the help of Lloyds Digital Champions, and around 600 WEA students have received support to build a career from Lloyds’ employability coaches.

The partnership has been founded on shared goals. At Lloyds Banking Group, in their comprehensive ‘Helping Britain Prosper Plan’, they have identified the need for accessible skills and training for adults. At the WEA, we know that making adult learning accessible is a crucial building block to a more equal, democratic and just society.
The feedback we have had from the volunteers involved in the programme has been amazing. They’ve discovered that many of the skills that they take for granted at work, such as the ability to interview for a job or even write an email, are skills which many people simply don‘t have. Some of the WEA students, for example, had been unemployed for some time and needed help with the basics so they could apply online for jobs. 2,500 WEA students across Scotland and England have already benefited from support and coaching from Lloyds volunteers. 

During the speeches, Antonio Lorenzo, Chief Executive, Scottish Widows, discussed the success of the partnership with the WEA highlighting the phenomenal achievement of growth in scale and reach with over 800 volunteers taking part and the thousands of students that have been supported so far. He discussed the future of the partnership and highlighted plans to use their LBG Digital Champion network to work with WEA students, sharing their skills to help begin to bridge the digital skills gap in the UK.
Ruth Spellman, CEO of the WEA, highlighted the “waste of human potential” and the role that adult education has to play in developing potential including progression into work, more sustainable employment, further and higher learning and volunteering. 
The Partnership has been extended for a further two years with plans underway to develop an exciting flagship ‘Into Work’ programme, which will support students through work placements, job interviews and into the start of full-time employment. Working with a range of employers situated around the UK the aim is to develop a model, which will maximise the chances of WEA students to not only start a job, but to thrive in their employment opportunities.