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VCS National Learning Alliance

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Skills for Life Network

A new initiative to support learning and training in the voluntary and community sector

VCS National Learning Alliance

‘We are writing to tell you about a new initiative to support learning and training in the voluntary and community sector (VCS), and to seek your views about how it should be taken forward.

The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) has start up funding from the UK Workforce Hub for the VCS, to develop and pilot a National Alliance for VCS providers of adult learning and training in England. The word ‘providers’ potentially covers a range of organisations from those delivering learning as their main activity through to those delivering some learning and who might like to know or do more in this field.

The work is being supported and guided by a small reference group. Its members include the UK Workforce Hub, National Association for Voluntary and Community Action (NAVCA), Federation for Community Development Learning (FCDL), the Foyer Federation and The Learning Curve (VCS learning and training consortium).

Why have a National Learning Alliance for the VCS?
We feel that VCS providers need a strong and influential national ‘voice’ to represent their views to government, alongside those of other advocacy organisations supporting private training providers, FE colleges and local authorities. This would complement the role of the UK Workforce Hub as a ‘voice’ for learners’ views across the range of VCS learning and training opportunities.

What’s happened so far?
The reference group has started to create a vision of what a VCS National Learning Alliance might become…

– a powerful national voice on learning and training issues, influencing government thinking, and ensuring VCS providers are treated fairly;

credible with the VCS and with relevant government departments and agencies, and other important organisations – in other words, not a talking shop but a group that makes a real and demonstrable difference;
a core decision-making group of about 20/30 members, reflecting perspectives across VCS providers and the range of VCS learning and training – from skills and workforce development and qualification-based programmes through to informal, community-based and lifelong learning;
well connected to VCS providers through links with relevant networks and supported by a communication plan, website and administrative and research services;
able to gather together, analyse and circulate relevant information so Alliance discussions and interventions happen at the right time and are well informed.
How do you have your say?
We are consulting widely about the VCS National Learning Alliance over the next twelve weeks. Please tell us what you think by answering a few questions which you can access via the link below. It should take you about 15 minutes. Deadline for responses is Thursday 21st September 2006.

Please remember, our funding for this year is limited to developing and testing out ideas and supporting a launch and early meetings. This means we might not be able to respond immediately to all ideas produced through the consultation! But those that can’t be acted on now might still be useful for future funding bids.

We can send you the questions in alternative formats (e.g. paper-based, electronically as a word document). Please contact


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