Cash in your pocket and a roof over your head are more fundamental than learning, a review of barriers to part-time study says. Adults will only be motivated to learn when their basic needs are met first and the main reason they return to learning is to get a job or find a better one.
The review of research between 1990-2005 by Ralf St Clair of Glasgow University reports that adults need "protection from financial risk" before they return to learning and flexible programming by colleges and other education providers. They also need peer and academic support and must have a clear understanding of the benefits of learning.
Around 40 per cent of adults take part in some learning at some stage, a steady statistic for decades. This challenges the idea that learning is a central activity.
A barrier to participation continues to be the "rigid boundaries" between formal and informal education, full-time and part-time education. More "seamless and consistent" planning and funding would help learners move easily through and between learning communities.
Looking to Learn is available on the Scottish Executive publications website.