Adults returning to learning, whether at college, home, or at work, now have a great way to find their route into study, thanks to a new Open University-led initiative, supported by the HEFCE National Networks for Collaborative Outreach (NNCO) programme.
The PEARL (Part-time Education for Adults Returning to Learn) website signposts educational opportunities for adults, so that they can refresh or increase their skills and knowledge, with a view to progress within their chosen career path, or to take a new direction.
The website launches on Monday 21 November 2016 with six free online courses for those looking for a new career or career progression within some specific areas of activity. These include: Introducing practical healthcare; Supporting children’s development; Caring for adults; Planning a better future; Taking part in the voluntary sector; Starting your small business.
PEARL is designed as the “go-to” resource for those trying to find their way through the plethora of education pathways available to adults. It contains a sophisticated diagnostic “Advise me” tool to pinpoint learning opportunities – suited to an individual’s time, level, preferred learning options and aspirations – so that learners can personalise their searches.
The website and courses are the fruition of a two-year collaboration between The Open University (OU) and eight other organisations who together form the Social Partnerships Network (SPN); the partners include: Association of Colleges, Learning and Work Institute (formerly NIACE), Leonard Cheshire Disability, National Council for Voluntary Organisations, National Extension College, The Open University, Unionlearn, UNISON and the Workers’ Educational Association.
The OU's Vice-Chancellor, Peter Horrocks, speaking to delegates at the conference, Re-thinking the tertiary system: The future of learning and work, on November 21 said it was a "fantastic resource" for adult learners.
The OU’s Julie Gowen, Project Lead at the Social Partnerships Network, said: “This great site provides an unparalleled resource for those trying to make their way through the myriad of courses and opportunities for adult learners; it’s designed to be a one-stop-shop that answers the need for information and guidance. We firmly believe learning increases your self-esteem and should continue throughout your life. The PEARL website and our six free courses will help people plan that journey.”
Clair Murphy, Programme Manager for NNCO HEFCE, said: "HEFCE welcomes the launch of the new PEARL website. It will provide a unique and rich source of advice and guidance for adults on non-traditional routes to and through Higher Education. The PEARL website also provides the opportunity to upskill and try out new areas of learning through the six new free online courses.”
Ian Borkett, Unionlearn Service Team Manager, said: “Unionlearn has been promoting the Social Partnerships Network's online resource, PEARL, to unions and their Union Learning Reps in workplaces and learning centres across the country. PEARL has been very popular with reps and learners alike, and the feedback we have received is very positive – highlighting the range and relevance of all the information provided by the site.”
“Workplace learners are really enjoying using PEARL, seeing the benefits of a great set of resources which supports them gain skills for work, and wider development. Unionlearn would highly recommend it to anyone looking for accessible and high-quality online learning opportunity that they can use to fit around busy lives.”