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Lifelong learning: flexible pathways and skills acquisition

Written by Denise Chircop,

Life Long Learning week 2016The Lifelong Learning Week, which is supported by Members of the European Parliament, will be held in the second week of October 2016. The week brings together learners, educators, field workers, policy makers, thinkers and political representatives. Events focus around the themes of learning to live together, 21st century skills and flexible learning pathways. Participants will discuss the multifaceted roles of education and training and ways to improve efficacy in fulfilling these roles. For instance, educational systems are expected to tackle barriers to learning in order to be more equitable and inclusive. Besides, active pedagogies that develop life skills are proposed as a way to improve social cohesion, foster democratic values, civic and social participation, self-actualisation and respect for others in a diverse society.

The public debate will look for flexible solutions and embrace an inclusive approach to encourage innovation in policy-making. The lifelong learning perspective which underpins it, encompasses education and training from early infancy to late adulthood in formal, non-formal and informal contexts. This requires some supportive structures, such as mechanisms to assist mobility and tools for the recognition of non-formal and informal learning. Improving the functionality of these arrangements will be discussed to make flexible learning pathways more tangible. This could widen access to new skills, helping people to adapt better to labour market evolutions or even to shape them.


See our Topical Digest on
Lifelong learning: flexible pathways and skills acquisition‘.


To accompany this event, the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) has published a topical digest that compiles a set of publications covering the main themes. They analyse the different ways the European Union supports Member States in the field of lifelong learning. The ‘European Youth Strategy’ and other EU youth initiatives are designed to support young people at a time marked by high youth unemployment and disenchantment, by opening up flexible pathways and opportunities for civic and social participation. However, these strategies cannot address the wider social and economic context on their own. The ‘Europe 2020 strategy’ identifies a number of key areas, including education, in need of structural reform to help Member States return to growth and the creation of jobs.

EU level strategies in the field of education, training, youth and sport are given substance through the Erasmus+ programme, whose implementation is currently being assessed by the European Parliament. The EPRS also looked at the cost-of non Europe on cross-border volunteering, which is supported by Erasmus+ for its potential to develop life skills. Skills development is also discussed with respect to the impact of technology on learning and teaching and in another analysis on skills mismatch within the European Union. On the other hand, the contribution of education towards an inclusive and cohesive society are addressed by an infographic on women and education, as well as a briefing on the educational dimension of the integration of migrants, and a note on education and intercultural dialogue as tools against radicalisation.

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The content of all documents (and articles) contained in this blog is the sole responsibility of the author and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily represent the official position of the European Parliament. It is addressed to the Members and staff of the EP for their parliamentary work. Reproduction and translation for non-commercial purposes are authorised, provided the source is acknowledged and the European Parliament is given prior notice and sent a copy. Copyright © European Union, 2014. All rights reserved

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