From skills and competences to capabilities
The investigation on theoretical sources and the comparison of the data collected in the framework of the LSE analysis brought the consortium to first define some key terms.
The partners found that using the terms such as “competence” and “skills” was too restrictive for the concepts they wanted to define. This is why they chose to use the term “capabilities” because “capabilities” do not depend on the context. The term also allows an emphasis on the critical and ethical dimensions of a certain competence. Capabilities can thus be understood as a combination of knowledge, as attitudes towards knowledge and as different skills.
As a result of the project, the definition of life skills was formulated: “Life skills are a constituent part of capabilities for life and work in a particular social, cultural and environmental context. The types of life skills emerge as a response to the needs of the individual in real life situations”.
The partners identified eight components linked to the concept of life skills: basic skills (numeracy, literacy, digital), personal and interpersonal capabilities (that include some of, but not only, the so-called soft skills), civic capabilities, financial capabilities, health capabilities, and environmental capabilities.
An inspiring but challenging process
Partners worked on the LSE analysis, collection and definition for a year.
“The material we got from the partners was so rich and inspiring that it took a lot of time to examine it all and make sure to include all aspects included in those valuable contributions”, declares one of the two authors of the analysis, Ester Mozina from SIAE.
“Furthermore, the more we proceeded with it, the more it was clear that the impact of this definition could be significant for adult education in Europe”, adds Francesca Operti, the LSE project coordinator from EAEA. “We are now ready to publish it, but we are aware that this is just the first step into a broader discussion on the concept”.
The LSE report on life skills in Europe together with its short version as well as a database of good practice and tools are now available on the LSE project website.
For more information, comments and feedback, contact Francesca Operti.
Text: Francesca OpertiPhotos: Shwetangi Gupta / Unsplash