Lifelong learning is defined by the education of learners over the age of 16. It consists of publicly-funded post-16 education excluding universities and, in the UK, one in five of all adults are in some form of lifelong learning at any one time.
There are so many roles within this vast and rewarding sector. Here is why you should consider a career in lifelong learning.
Choose from a wide variety of positions
Of course, qualified and passionate teachers are required in the lifelong learning sector, but there are also so many other career paths available. Assessors, subject leaders, work-based learning supervisors, curriculum developers, administrators, personal tutors, interviewers, people who liaise with external bodies, pastoral carers and so many more workers are essential to keeping the sector going.
If you do want to be a teacher, you are not limited in the form your work takes. Being an educator in the lifelong learning sector includes roles such as:
Lecturer, tutor, trainer or instructor
A trainer in your vocational profession (for example, bricklaying, nursing, engineering or bricklaying) who imparts skills on students and apprentices
Trainer in the police, fire service and armed forces
In-house trainer of staff at a private organisation
Help adults achieve their goals
It can be extremely fulfilling to help others and this will be something you experience every day as someone working within the lifelong learning sector. Adult learners range from teenagers to pensioners, and all come from different backgrounds and have different reasons for entering an education.
You will work with these learners to help them achieve their goals, whatever their motivations behind gaining new skills and knowledge and you will be able to watch thousands of students grow and get to where they want to be over the course of your career.
Choose from so many places to work
As you enter the lifelong learning sector, you have a great choice in where you work. Whilst further education colleges may come to mind when you think of lifelong learning, adult education also takes place in sixth forms, community centres, libraries, voluntary organisations, information centres, workplaces and prisons.
Where you end up working might depend on what subject you are teaching, for example, but there is certainly opportunity to have a say in the setting or even provide training at multiple places concurrently.
Specialise in a subject you love
Whether you want to train others in your current vocation or want to teach a subject you are passionate about, there is room to do this in the lifelong learning sector. Since there are so many lifelong learners and so many settings in which this form of education takes place, you can enter the sector teaching something you are interested in and you can get satisfaction from seeing others grow their skills in this field.
Avoid monotony with varied roles
Every day is not the same as a lifelong learning sector worker. If your job involves teaching, this will not be the only thing you will get up to. You will also complete administrative tasks, develop skills in using different systems, complete marking and assessing, maintain health and safety, support pastoral care needs, encounter problem solving and, primarily, deal with many different adult learners and try and do what you can to support their growth.
You can make your role your own, such as by taking on extra responsibilities within your department, which in turn provides you with greater variety, extra skills and progression in your career.
Choose your hours
You don’t have to change your lifestyle too much to work in the lifelong learning sector. In fact, there are more part-time workers in the industry than there are full-time ones! When you search for jobs, you are likely to find ones suited to the number of hours you want to work each week.
Be part of promoting equality
A key principle of the lifelong learning sector is that it aims to build positive, inclusive learning environments. Within your role, you will work to treat everyone equally and give everyone, no matter their age or background, the same opportunity to participate.
Acknowledging and celebrating diversity can be used to unite people and to plan to meet different learners' needs. From your position as a worker within the lifelong learning sector, you will feel pleased that your work is helping to bring about equality of education and skills level.
Bibliography: M. Francis and J. Gould (2012), Achieving Your PTLLS Award. Sage Publishing.