23.07.2021

A critical reflection on Individual Learning Accounts

EAEA answered the open Consultation on Individual Learning Accounts (ILA) launched by the European Commission by having a critical look at the pros and cons of ILA. The ILA do have the potential to function as a constitution of entitlement and right to adult education, however, they can also include some risks, especially if not implemented correctly.

The Consultation on Individual Learning Accounts was open until 16 July 2021.

Consult EAEA’s full statement: A critical reflection on Individual Learning Accounts (pdf)

Summary of EAEA’s statement

Individual Learning Accounts have the potential to function as a constitution of entitlement and right to adult education, a financing instrument that can be crucial in countries with low ALE funding, increasing participation in lifelong learning, as well as supporting accreditation and quality of monitoring processes. However, the following risks of ILA have to be considered as well, namely the broadening of the learning gap, opportunities for fraud, the replacement of already existing and well-functioning funding instruments, a shifting in the viewed responsibility to initiate and uphold learning activities, as well as lead to highly bureaucratic systems.

Against this background, EAEA recommends clear and European-wide definitions of ILAs, their tools and goals. ILAs need to take all forms and objectives of adult education into account and not solely bolster labour market instruments. Additionally, access at any age and to all forms of learning has to be assured, as non-formal and leisure courses are often the pathway for vocational and/or formal learning. Therefore, ILAs need accompanying measures such as low-threshold guidance and information about learning opportunities, as well as extended outreach to people with low basic skills and from vulnerable groups.

Since monitoring is essential in this context, it should be carried out in a multi-stakeholder approach and embedded in ALE systems so that it complements existing instruments. Additionally, we call for careful consideration of the used criteria, as ALE often consists of smaller providers or NGOs who might not be able to attain a formal certification procedure.

Doubtful about a possible European scheme for ILAs, we support the portability of education and training, and we urge for clarification to the following question before moving forward with ILAs:

  • Do ILAs reinforce the ‘split’ between general and vocational adult education?
  • Will formal education be further advanced at the cost of non-formal learning?
  • Do ILAs encourage the participation of vulnerable groups or not?
  • Are all groups of society adequately targeted?

More information

Gina Ebner
e-mail: gina.ebner@eaea.org

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