Professor Stephen McNair


Stephen McNair has spent most of his career in adult, further and higher education. His first involvement in the guidance world was in the 1980s, when he created and ran the Unit for the Development of Adult Continuing Education whose first work was a Government commission to produce a plan for adult guidance (The Challenge of Change), which led to the creation of the National Educational Guidance Initiative (NEGI). He was then involved in a series of attempts to unify the guidance world, as one of the founders of the Guidance Council, and of the Career Development Institute. In the 2000s he became the (last) President of the National Association for Educational Guidance for Adults.
Apart from guidance, his main work has been on lifelong learning, a field he has worked in (in all its forms) since the 1960s, notably as a Local Government Officer, Director of Research at NIACE and an HE advisor to the Employment Department. For five years he was Head of the School of Educational Studies at the University of Surrey and in 2004-05 he was a Head of a School at the NHSU.

He has undertaken consultancy work for the OECD, the University for Industry, and CIPD. Committees he has served on include: the UK Advisory Forum on Age, the Cabinet Office’s Academic Advisory Committee on the National Skills Strategy, the National Advisory Group on Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning, and the Surrey Learning and Skills Council.

In 2003 he created the Centre for Research into the Older Workforce and since then his main research interests have been in the older workforce and older people’s learning. He is currently Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of the European Joint Programming Initiative on Demographic Change, which is coordinating the research agendas of national funding bodies. He is also a Senior Research Fellow at NIACE, and an Advisor to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Further details of his work can be found at


A Better future for us all (2015) NIACE, Leicester A policy paper on older people’s learning, outlines the benefits, challenges and proposes solutions.
Mid-life Career Review (2015) NIACE, Leicester Final report of the project which piloted career reviews for people over 45.
Adult Guidance: where from, and where to? NICEC Journal 2015 A review of the development of adult guidance since the 1980s
“Rebalancing resources across the lifecoursein Adults Learning, (2014) NIACE, Leicester Makes the case for a redistribution of resources for learning across the lifecourse, in line with the recommendations of the National Inquiry into Lifelong Learning
More years: better lives. Strategic Research Agenda on demographic change. (Editor) JPI MYBL, Brussels (2014) Presents a Europe wide research agenda addressing the major policy issues facing ageing societies
“An Aspiration Nation: whither adult guidance?” In Adults Learning (2013) NIACE, Leicester
Older people's learning in 2012: a survey report (2012) NIACE, Leicester The largest survey ever undertaken into the learning of people over 50 in the UK
Older people and skills in a changing economy (2011) UK Commission on Employment and Skills, London A review of the implications of an ageing society for the labour market
“Career support for migrants: transformation or adaptation” (2011) with Bimrose, J. in Journal of Vocational Behaviour issue 78 An examination of the implications of mass migration for careers guidance
A sense of a future: learning and work in later life (2010) (research report for the Nuffield Foundation), NIACE, Leicester A study, review and empirical, of the relationship between learning and work for people over 50
Extending working life: market pressures or policy initiatives? (2010) UK national paper to EU Peer Review on “Sustainable Employability: policy responses to extending working life”
Funding Lifelong Learning (2010) NIACE, Leicester A commissioned paper for the National Inquiry into the Future for Lifelong Learning
Learning and Work in Later Life, NIACE 2010 A review of the literature
Demography and Lifelong Learning (2009) NIACE, Leicester (thematic paper for the National Commission) A commissioned paper for the National Inquiry into the Future for Lifelong Learning
Migration, Communities and Lifelong Learning (2009) NIACE, Leicester (thematic paper for the National Commission) A commissioned paper for the National Inquiry into the Future for Lifelong Learning