Access to ongoing learning is a major priority for older people around Australia, but opportunities are increasingly limited with many courses over-subscribed, too few resources, lack of accessibility and inadequate funding.
ERA’s Ageing Strategies project team believes a new business model is required to address the shortage of informal learning opportunities for older people across the ERA region. The project team is proposing a new Learners’ Market that creates a new style of modern learning for older people. The Learners’ Market will take the self-organising strategies that have been effective in online social networking and adapt them to a community-based group learning structure. It would create self-organised networks of learners and teachers who could come together in homes, cafes, libraries and community centres to exchange and share skills, knowledge and interests. Members would be free to barter, sell or volunteer their skills and time as they chose, depending on the level of interest from potential students in the “learning market”. This could provide a simple and logical model for addressing the shortage of informal learning opportunities across Australia as a whole, especially given the increasingly high level of online access around the nation. The proposal is consistent with the recommendations of the Commonwealth Government’s Advisory Panel on the Economic Potential of Senior Australians.