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Over 50s learners ‘on rise’ in county as jobs market changes

PUBLISHED: 14:39 15 May 2018 | UPDATED: 14:39 15 May 2018

Realise Futures learning and development class. Picture: REALISE FUTURES

Realise Futures learning and development class. Picture: REALISE FUTURES

Realise Futures

A Suffolk adult learning provider says it has seen a spike in over fifties learners retraining on its courses.

Deb Williams, Realise Futures Learning and Development. Picture: REALISE FUTURESDeb Williams, Realise Futures Learning and Development. Picture: REALISE FUTURES

Realise Futures says it is also seeing more carers retraining to find employment.

The social enterprise, which has centres in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, Stowmarket, Lowestoft and Newmarket, runs 100-plus courses throughout Suffolk covering skills for work, maths and English, computers and technology, health and wellbeing, and family learning.

Operations manager Deb Williams said: “What we are seeing increasingly are people in their late 50s who’ve just been made redundant, who find themselves seeking work, and are looking to brush up their IT skills with computers and technology courses - something like a fast track computer course, which is a very intensive week, is something they are doing, and it’s where we can get them up to speed on how things work these days.”

People in their late 50s have a huge amount of skills, but they are finding the jobs that they had are no longer there, explained.

“They may be having to be coming terms with all sorts of awful things - like the salary they could command is not the salary they can command now. Because not everyone has a private pension behind them, people need to continue working through to retirement which may be years away,” she said. “We are also seeing people with caring responsibilities retraining. Many may have devoted 20 years to caring for elderly parents and now they find themselves signing on. They’ve wrecked their backs and wrecked their health, and it’s our job to help people in this situation and support them in looking to develop new workplace skills.”

Mrs Williams pointed out that research shows adult community learning is beneficial to people’s mental and physical health, and feedback from learners shows they gain confidence and wellbeing through learning.

“Somebody who is long-term unemployed, who may have had a very poor experience with education, may have a lot of underlying issues, so joining something like a computer or a confidence course will give them some good foundations to take the first steps to learning and getting into work,” she said. “It’s not just skills to help them secure employment. The skills they develop transfer to support them in their daily lives,”

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