A major drive to involve more adults in learning is to be launched next week in an attempt to improve the faltering Scottish performance in education and training. The Scottish Campaign for Learning will be unveiled in Glasgow before a conference of professionals prior to a public launch on May 24.
It will coincide with a number of pronouncements on lifelong learning and adult guidance to be made by Raymond Robertson, the Education Minister, when he addresses the conference, organised by the Adult Education Guidance Initiative Scotland and the Local Initiatives for Adults in Scottish Education project.
The Government will also give its response to proposals from the broadly based national skills forum, which has submitted a report to the Secretary of State on solutions to the growing "skills deficit", including failings in basic literacy and numeracy. The forum wants barriers to learning such as loss of benefit to be removed and steps taken to improve individual motivation towards the take-up of education and training opportunities.
Encouragement of individual demand for learning will be at the heart of the new campaign, which is being backed by the local authorities, the enterprise agencies, the Scottish Office and a number of educational bodies. It hopes for backing from the political parties and has already secured the support of Richard Wilson, the actor, Donnie Munro, singer and Labour parliamentary candidate, and Lex Gold, director of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce.
The campaign has been sparked by Scotland's sluggish progress towards national education and training targets. The results of a Mori poll last year also rang alarm bells, revealing that 63 per cent of adults had no intention of taking part in any course over the following 12 months.
A poll commissioned from Gallup by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education showed that participation in any kind of learning, current or recent, is put at 38 per cent in Scotland against a UK rate of 40 per cent.
Scotland, as part of the UK, has been ranked by the independent Geneva-based World Economic Forum 24th out of 49 countries in its "ability to motivate, educate and train its people".