The wider benefits of learning have been well researched and well publicised and are of significance to institutions and individuals promoting Lifelong Learning . As 2014 begins it is timely to put renewed energy into emphasising the link between individual well being, education, economic status and citizenship. The Guardian reported on the 2nd January that the mental health of jobless young people is worrying: the article quotes the findings of a YouGov poll, which reported that 40% of jobless young people have experienced symptoms of mental illness such as suicidal thoughts, feelings of self loathing and panic attacks due to their unemployment. Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health said of the research: "It proves that unemployment is a public health issue. It is one that must be tackled urgently and it is essential that youth unemployment is added to the public health agenda."
But it is not only a public health issue: what needs to be stressed is that lifelong learning, from short courses to degree level, provides opportunities for increased self confidence, skills development and a wider involvement in/greater contribution to society.
Can we engage the media and politicians in making sure that the lifelong learning agenda has prominence as a force for positive change?