David Patterson, of Learning Light.

Members of an EU-funded Leonardo Transfer of Innovation project – called the Enable Project – meet in Hotel Holiday Inn, ul. Wielopole 4, Krakow, in Poland, on 6th September, to disseminate the project’s latest results. The project deals with ‘enabling labour market entry and mobility to disadvantaged groups engaging across Europe in learning through innovation’ (see: http://enable-lifelonglearning.ning.com/).


Efficio Poland is organising the conference along with Learning Light, from the UK. Additional speakers will come from Romania’s IFES, as well as Asset-tec, based in Athens, Greece; Fondazione Luigi CLerici of Italy; The Workshop, based in Sheffield, UK, and the MRS Consultancy also based in the UK.


According to Learning Light’s David Patterson, the project has developed a unique methodology that uses both a ‘digital engagement tool’ – Page Designer – and an innovative learner-led engagement methodology to connect with hard-to-reach learners across the five countries involved in the project.


In the UK, the project focused on the Somali community. Patterson said: “Piloting of the methodology and engagement tool has produced some very encouraging results.


“We want to make Page Designer available under a Creative Commons License to be used for all those interested in the tool and the methodology to engage with hard to reach learners,” he added.


“Learning Light is already well known for its pioneering work with hard-to-reach learners in the UK, having developed innovative e-learning programmes for use by hard-to-reach groups, such as offenders and the long term unemployed. We believe that the Enable methodology and engagement tool are significant developments in this field.”


Comment: This consortium’s work on connecting with and then engaging hard-to-reach groups in society could not be better timed, it would appear.


In recent weeks, the UK has witnessed riots in cities – allegedly the work of an ‘underclass’ with few prospects of employment. Then the Government announced that the unemployment rate in the UK for the three months to June 2011 was 7.9 per cent of the economically active population and the number of unemployed people increased by 38,000 over the quarter to reach 2.49m.


Shortly afterwards, according to figures from the UK’s Department for Education (DfE), the proportion of 18 to 24-year-olds not in employment, education or training (NEETs) is now18.4%. This figure, for the second quarter of 2011, is an increase from last year’s second quarter figure of 16.3%, and is the highest second-quarter figure since 2006, when comparable data was first collected.


Young people, immigrant ethnic groups; older people; prisoners; long term unemployed – the list of potentially disadvantaged groups in society is almost endless. At least if mechanisms can exist to reach these people and tools be made available to help them develop knowledge and skills which can help them get – and keep – jobs, then some progress can be made.