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The Festival of Learning Awards


The Festival of Learning Awards

Life At Phoenix Offices 4

Phoenix Insights is proud to be a sponsor of the Festival of Learning Awards, which took place on 5th July.  

We are focused on the shifts we need to make in society to enable more of us to make the most of longer lives, and lifelong learning has a huge role to play in this. With as many as one in three children born in the UK today set to live to 100, it is important that learning is sustained throughout the whole of adult life, to enable people to maximise their potential and sustain longer working lives, particularly in a world of such fast-moving technological and ecological change.  

A message for change in adult education  

We know from recent Learning and Work Institute (L&W) analysis that people in the UK invest £7.3bn a year and £55bn worth of time in their own learning as adults, more than the amounts currently invested by employers or the Government. I echo Stephen Evans’ (chief executive of L&W) words that the Festival of Learning finalist and winner stories ‘demonstrate the many ways adult learning holds the key to improving people’s job and career prospects, increasing health and wellbeing, widening participation in society, and much more besides.’ This is the message we need to take to employers and government if we are truly to see the turnaround in priority given to adult education that is so sorely needed.  

Celebrating inspirational stories  

Festival of Learning winners and finalists this year aged over 50 were plentiful; displaying some truly inspiring stories for the awards of Learning for Work, New Directions, Learning for Health and the Patron’s Award. One learner turned her health issues into learning opportunities and founded a community support group as a result. Another learner told of the enormous mental health benefits found from learning, which provided purpose and structure to daily life, as well as a feeling of freedom following a stroke and overwhelming isolation during Covid. Another embraced the digital world in her 80s to turn her dream into reality and launch an online art exhibition. And another learner told of overcoming the extreme adversity of memory loss and homelessness to forge a new career and reconnect with family. These stories are so powerful and demonstrate the grit and determination of people to change their lives for the better. Given the opportunity to learn, they have all thrived.   

Full stories of the winners and finalists can be found here.  

This is also why we support awareness raising weeks such as National Older Workers Week as well as forming the Careers Can Change campaign, to promote the possibility of changing career at any age.  

Building a culture of lifelong learning  

We also know from our own research that age is not the only significant barrier to taking part in lifelong learning. Paying for training and aversion to taking on debt are very real factors which are only exacerbated during the current cost of living crisis. Lack of confidence or familiarity with the education system is also a hurdle. And a need to balance work, caring responsibilities or health needs is paramount for most people. It is entirely understandable that for many, the idea of training or moving careers feels like too much of a gamble. Employers and Government are fundamental in addressing those concerns and assisting in ‘risk-proofing’ those daunting life changes. But also, the showcasing of stories and lessons of those who have taken those gambles and are living proof it pays off, play a significant role in inspiring and creating the culture of lifelong learning we so urgently need.  

That is why we are proud to partner with L&W on their Festival of Learning campaign. The inspiring stories of the nominees are proof positive of the life-changing role that learning can play in people’s lives.