WEA launches 2018 Impact Report

As adult education participation hits a 20-year low and funding reaches crisis point, a new report from The WEA "Empowering adults through education" – has revealed the transformative effect of adult education to individuals and communities across the country.

The WEA, the UK’s largest voluntary sector provider of adult education teaches around 50,000 students across the UK and they represent some of the hardest to reach in society. The report demonstrates that adult learning has an enormous impact on individuals and communities – transforming outcomes for people in deprived communities; boosting employability, reducing social exclusion and increasing social mobility, enabling them to contribute more and rely less on the health service and government funded financial support.

The findings from the report are published alongside a stark warning from the charity, that without sustained funding, the positive impacts it reveals are coming under threat. 

Over 4,000 students from The WEA were surveyed for the 2017-2018 impact report - which focused on Employability; Health and Wellbeing; Community Engagement and Personal Development.

Key findings from the report include: 

Enhancing employability
•    44% of students who were unemployed and looking for work before the course became employed after
•    81% of job-seeking students said their courses boosted the skills they would need for work 
•    68% of students in work gained employability benefits as a result of their course
•    24% of students taking multiple courses reported earning more 
•    13% of students stopped claiming means-tested benefits following a WEA course 

Improving health and wellbeing
•    82% of students with mental health issues reported improvements in their condition (68% reduced stress and 65% managed stress better)
•    72% of WEA students made fewer visits to the GP compared to the national average
•    64% reported an increase in self-confidence

Delivering skills for life

•    54% enhanced their critical thinking skills 
•    51% boosted their communication skills with 23% improving language and literacy skills
•    29% improved their problem-solving skills
•    55% were inspired by their WEA course to continue learning

Social cohesion

•    40% felt a heightened sense of belonging to their community 
•    39% gained a greater understanding of other cultures and 29% felt more respectful to those different to themselves
•    23% wanted to improve their local area after attending their WEA course

Chief Executive of the WEA, Ruth Spellman said: “Society and the way we all work are changing and yet the environment for learning is becoming more hostile with overstretched resources and a lack of financial support for adult students.

“The figures in this report highlight the vital role adult education plays in our communities – from re-introducing students to learning; giving them the life skills they need to move into work and addressing key issues around health and social isolation. The positive impacts that we see in this report are achieved against the tide, not with it.” 

To read the full 2018 Impact Report click here