The CLD Standards Council is the professional body for community learning and development practitioners involved in adult learning, community development and youth work across Scotland. Driving high standards of professional practice by approving CLD programmes, supporting professional learning and maintaining the public register of approximately 3000 members; the CLD Standards Council campaigns, advocates and influences policy on behalf of the CLD sector. In recent years, our role as connectors, educators and influencers has become even more pronounced.
The CLD workforce remains resilient, agile and quick to respond to young people, learners and community needs with practitioners being an essential link between people, communities, local authorities, colleges and Scottish Government. They deliver services such as education and learning programmes focusing on digital skills, health advice, utilities access, community resources, welfare / employment rights, governance, befriending, foodbanks and pantries, mental health support, all contributing to community capacity building. A key aspect has been CLD practitioners’ access and knowledge of local communities and networks which enables them to co-create learning opportunities to meet local needs.
CLD practitioners work within and across institutions and organisations to engage with young people, adult learners, families and communities in ways that generate social capital and economic opportunity. They principally work with people, groups and communities that are at risk of being excluded and have the fewest opportunities to contribute actively to civic society; as practitioners they educate by co-creating inclusive learning journeys based on dialogue; connect people, communities and institutions, creating pathways of opportunity and achievement; and foster empowerment with and for people and groups who lack power, influence and confidence.
Both CLD and colleges have demonstrated their capacity to address challenges by adapting and learning quickly to ensure appropriate support is provided to the communities which we serve. Persistent global disruptive events means that current political, economic, health and social systems and approaches are unlikely to be viable future models, suggesting that radically different policies may be required. A proposed shift towards a well-being economy would require specific actions to address perennial inequalities in educational outcomes, the persistence of low skill levels amongst large sections of the population, labour market challenges, debilitating inequalities in health and the exclusion of marginalised voices.
Central to tackling these 21st Century challenges is investment in more robust and consistent CLD and college partnerships across Scotland. Effective partnerships in which CLD providers are resourced appropriately to contribute fully, would be a highly effective means of countering the negative impacts from the pandemic and the resulting social and economic challenges.