A Case Study of Glasgow as a Learning City

Tool type(s): 
City/Regional Development
Examples of Good Practice: 
Learning Region Strategies

Faced with rising unemployment and some of the highest areas of deprivation in Scotland, Glasgow is transforming itself from its industrial past to a city that competes strongly in the knowledge based economy of the 21st Century.
The city is well resourced with learning opportunities and the challenge is to reach the high proportion of its population who are marginalised by rapid change and the disappearance of low skilled work.
In Glasgow, :
 33% of young people leave school without qualifications.
 60% of Glasgow’s population of 600 000 are regarded as non learners.
 Between 5 and 15% of its population (depending on locality) participate in Higher Education cf 45% in Scotland as a whole.
 Half the children in the city live in poverty.
 35 000 families live in poverty.

Educational disadvantage is higher where there are multiple factors of deprivation in areas such as North Glasgow that include lower skilled employment, high rates of public housing tenancy, higher rates of illness and death, poorer nutrition
and higher levels of drug use and crime (Glasgow the Learning City, Barriers to Access to Learning, Glasgow Learning Alliance, 2000).

The Learning City solution
Alternatives to traditional ways of doing things take time to implement and Glasgow chose to become a Learning City as a strategy to fast track initiatives that might address its serious problems. Glasgow is not a member of the Learning City
Network, choosing to focus on local issues and building relationships locally. It has now been a Learning City long enough to have recruited and developed key people in its alliances. These people are characterised not by being figureheads but by being active people who can influence change.

The attached description of Glasgow as a Learning City was compiled by Shanti Wong, a researcher from Geelong, a Learning City in Australia, on a study visit to Europe.