Upskilling Pathways in AEPRO

UP-AEPRO addresses the constant need and interest of adult education (AE) trainers and staff to learn more about European developments in adult education and other countries’ systems and innovation. In particular, the project contributes to deepening the knowledge and fostering the discussion about the recently launched European strategy in adult education, the Upskilling Pathways initiative (UP).

Aims and objectives of the project

UP-AEPRO aims at

  • Increasing the knowledge about the Upskilling Pathways initiative and other Lifelong Learning policies at the European level
  • Allowing the exchange of innovation across Europe on the Upskilling Pathways initiative related topics
  • Improving quality, professionalisation, and capacity building of AE staff and providers
  • Supporting UP-AEPRO learners and partners to develop online learning and introduce ICT tools into their daily work
  • Increasing the intercultural skills of AE trainers and staff
  • Strengthening the cooperation with peers and policy-makers in their countries and in Europe
  • Improving the UP initiative implementation at different levels by enabling AE trainers and staff (and the organisations for which they work) to be involved


  • AE organisations and providers will able to increase their advocacy skills and to feel empowered in being involved in the initiative’s implementation.
  • The project will also provide them with the opportunity of an enriching deepening and exchange about their organisations’ and members states’ practices on the three steps of the initiative.
  • Participants will thus increase their professionalisation as well as the quality of their offer.




A transnational learning activity, involving AE organisations staff and participants in the online course, took place in Brussels (Belgium), in September 2019.


A final conference aimed at presenting all the UP-APRO outputs to AE organisations and their staff, policy-makers, learners was foreseen in Portugal in June 2020. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the event took place online on the 20th of November 2020.

Innovate, learn, share, act

E-learning course on policy and practices for Upskilling Pathways

The online course “Innovate – Learn, Share, Act” aims at deepening the knowledge and fostering the discussion about the Upskilling Pathways initiative (UP). The course started in May and ended in November 2019, and took place on EAEA learning platform. The recordings of the webinars, discussions, and course materials are available on the Moodle platform so you can still attend online.

Through this course, you will

  • gain knowledge about the Upskilling Pathways initiative and other Lifelong Learning policies at the European level;
  • acquire new insights based on policy examples and practices from the European adult education sector;
  • improve your understanding of how to implement the Upskilling Pathways initiative at different levels.

Structure of the course and methodology:

The course is taking place on the AE-PRO learning platform. You can attend the whole course or individual sessions. The community aspect is one of the strongest elements of the course, so participants are invited to use the platform’s forum to exchange ideas, inputs, and proposals.

The course is composed of 4 modules:

  1. Policy overview and European advocacy
  2. Skills assessment
  3. Tailor-made offers
  4. Validation and recognition

Each module is structured in 3/5 sessions, with a mix of webinars, forum discussions and self-study.

Participant profile

Adult education trainers and staff; policy-makers involved in adult education.

How to enrol

There is no age limit, the study language is English, and the training is free of charge.

You can enrol in each module separately. Once you click on the module, first you have to log in or create your account (if you have not done it before). Then you can enrol as a student. After enrolling you will be able to see the full programme of the sessions included in the module. The website will guide you in the process.

Enroll on the course on EAEA learning platform!

Recognition of participants’ learning outcomes

For each session of each module, participants will receive a learning badge (14 in total). A final certificate is foreseen for participants who will miss a maximum of one session per module (around 70% of attendance).

Advocacy toolkit

The UP-AEPRO Advocacy toolkit consists of a set of good practices and recommendations that could be used to achieve progress in the implementation of the Upskilling Pathways initiative, both at practice and policy levels. The toolkit is the final output elaborated by the consortium of the UP-AEPRO project and is based on the practices and policies collected during the whole project’s lifespan.


After a brief introduction to the Upskilling Pathways initiative, the toolkit presents a collection of good practices on each step of the Upskilling Pathways initiative, as well as on its guiding principles. This enables readers to get inspired from other countries in Europe to make the Upskilling Pathways initiative a reality.

The statistics and learner voices chapters will support readers in acquiring policy messages and advocacy tools to get involved in the design, monitoring, and implementation of the Upskilling Pathways initiative.

The UP-AEPRO policy recommendations will help readers identify the fundamental steps to improve policies and practices on upskilling and reskilling in their countries. They include direct quotations about the concrete experience of the UP-AEPRO project participants, who have been working on the topic for months, together with the project consortium.

The glossary at the end of the document will help define the terminology used in this toolkit and to understand the approach applied by the UP-AEPRO partners.


The first target group is the national policymakers, who still might be convinced of the added-value and feasibility of the Upskilling Pathways initiative, and should be informed about the gaps and the barriers faced by the adult education providers in reaching out to potential learners and providing them with adequate and meaningful learning offers.  The second target group is the adult education providers and practitioners, who should be consulted more in the design of adult education policies and need advocacy tools to get recognition for their crucial job in upskilling and reskilling people all over Europe. The toolkit also addresses national adult education organisations who strive for exchange opportunities with other (European) colleagues on how to improve basic/life skills provision in Europe and thus contribute to the implementation of the Upskilling Pathways initiative.

–>Download the UP-AEPRO advocacy toolkit – Final version (pdf)

–> Download the policy recommendations infographic (pdf)

Upskilling Pathways – how to go from practice to policy?

The webinars provided the occasion to showcase successful case studies and draw comparisons between different national approaches. Speakers and participants were invited to share their experiences and learn from each other. The webinars’ recordings and presentations below can be relevant and inspiring for many adult education practitioners and policymakers in Europe and beyond.

The UP-AEPRO peer learning webinars are focused on the following topics (scroll down to find more details and the supporting material):

  1. Individual-centred approach to validation
  2. Citizens’ Curriculum as a holistic approach to learning basic skills
  3. The value of validation of prior learning in working life
  4. Competences, administrative obstacles, and working life
  5. Implementing Upskilling Pathways – frontiers in Portugal & Sweden

The UP-AEPRO partners also drafted a questionnaire to collect feedback and recommendations for further implementation of the Upskilling Pathways initiative (you can find the results in this infographic).


Webinars’ description and supporting material

1. Individual-centred approach to validation (18/02/2020)

In the first webinar, Marlies Pfann from Women’s centre in the Netherlands presented a method focusing on a step-by-step validation process to empower women towards active participation in society and the labour market. The model presented is transferrable and highly effective as an outreach measure supporting inclusion. A total of 28 adult learning experts took part in the webinar.

Link to recording on YouTube

Resources: Marlies Pfann IWC presentation (pdf)

Presenter: Marlies Pfann, Director, International Women’s Centre

Coordinators: NVL Iceland and The Education and Training Service Centre (ETSC) in Iceland


2. Citizens’ Curriculum as a holistic approach to learning basic skills (03/03/2020)

The Citizens’ Curriculum is an innovative, holistic approach to empower people to get the language, maths, digital, civic, health, and financial capabilities they need. The approach is based on what motivates adults to learn, through giving learners a voice in co-designing curriculum content and careful contextualization, ensuring that people are learning skills that are relevant to their lives and their work.

Link to recording on YouTube
Note that the first part of the webinar, Alex Stevenson’s presentation, was not captured on the recording.


Citizens’ curriculum as a holistic approach to learning basic skills (pdf)

Learning basic skills by solving everyday challenges – How learner centred approach works in practice? (pdf)

Presenters: Alex Stevenson (Learning and Work Institute), Nina Hjelt (Finnish Lifelong Learning Foundation) and Venni Alanko (Aurala Setlement)

Coordinators: Finnish Lifelong Learning Foundation (KVS)


3. The value of validation of prior learning in working life (17/03/20)

The RARPA-process measures the progress and achievement of students on non-accredited learning programmes in the UK. The majority of such courses are in the adult and community learning sector. The RARPA process has been an established part of the quality assurance of non-accredited learning in England for over 15 years and was updated by Learning and Work Institute in 2017.

The webinar included an overview of the 6-step process and suggestions for the practical implementation of RARPA, examples of how providers worked with the process and it might be adapted to use in different settings. In addition, the webinar tackled the issue of quality assurance and the similarities and differences between RARPA and other approaches.

Link to the recording on YouTube

Resource: Evaluating Non-Accredited Learning: Recognising and Recording Progress and Achievement (pdf)

Presenter: Alex Stevenson, Learning and Work Institute

Coordinator of the webinar: Learning & Work Institute, UK


4. Competences, administrative obstacles and working life (31/03/20)

A presentation on how Finland through the reform of the Vocational Training Act deals with future competence needs. The outset is the thought that as we cannot really predict the competences needed in the future, we are focusing on giving LLL skills to everyone. The second part of the presentation took a closer look at how the system tries to cope with adults that have low basic skills and at the same time are motivated and forwarded to secondary level vocational training, but lack the prerequisites to fully benefit from the training.

Guest speaker Erno Hyvönen focused on low skilled adults and how VET and tailor-made offers can support this group towards entering the labour market. In this context, VET has many target groups: young people, adults, and people in working life who need upskilling or reskilling and the unemployed. Hyvönen is involved in Upskilling Pathways strategy work in Finland and he is an expert on flexible learning in VET.

Resource: Competences, administrative obstacles and working life –and how VET system in Finland tries to cope with these,  E. Hyvönen (pdf)

Presenter: Erno Hyvönen, Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture

Coordinator of the webinar: NVL Finland

Unfortunately due to the high number of participants and some technical issues, the recording of this session is not available.


5. Implementing Upskilling Pathways – frontiers in Portugal & Sweden (14/04/2020)

The webinar focuses on the role of non-formal adult education in implementing Upskilling Pathways basic skills strategy. Guest speakers Andreas Fejes (Sweden) and Dina Soeiro (Portugal) will share critical views on the current developments in their countries and discuss the next steps to advance education for low-skilled adults. EAEA’s Policy Officer Raffaela Kihrer will provide a short input on the 2019 country report’s results from the two countries.

Link to the recording on YouTube

Adult education and UP in Sweden, A. Fejes (pdf)

Adult education adn UP in Portugal, D. Soeiro (pdf)

Adult Education in Europe a civil society view, R. Kihrer (pdf)

Presenters: Andreas Fejes (Linköping University) and Dina Soeiro (Coimbra Higher Education School)

Fejes is professor and chair of adult education research at Linköping University in Sweden. His research currently concerns issues of what role adult and popular education play for migrants social inclusion (mainly refugees and asylum seekers) and issues concerning what the consequences are of the marketization and privatization of adult education. Fejes is one of the founding editors of the European Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults, and he is currently the chair of the board for the European Society for Research on the Education of Adults.

Soeiro is professor at Coimbra Higher Education School – Polytechnic Institute of Coimbra. She lectures Adult Education and Educational Gerontology using an on-Service Learning approach. She also does apply research on non-formal adult education. Dina is an Executive Board Member of EAEA and a Board Member of APCEP – Associação Portuguesa para a Cultura e Educação Permanente. 

The webinar has been introduced by Raffaela Kihrer, policy officer at EAEA, and moderated by August Nilsson (Glokala Folkhigh School).

Coordinator of the webinar: EPATV Portugal & Glokala Sweden




Get involved and be part of a European community of adult educators! We invite all of you to actively participate with reflections and comments via our social media:



How can adult learning organisations engage to increase participation in Upskilling Pathways?

After successfully organising an online course and peer learning webinars on inspiring policies and practices for Upskilling Pathways, the consortium thought it was time to exchange with ALE trainers and staff how learners’ participation could be increased in upskilling and reskilling learning opportunities.

The final conference was held online on 20.11.2020, and it gathered more than 80 Adult Education professionals all over Europe.

Participants had the chance to discuss the challenges and opportunities of the Initiative in relation to increasing participation and outreach. They were also invited to contribute to the UP-AEPRO policy recommendations.

In addition to high-level inputs, presentations of the project results and interactive discussions were planned. A parallel session provided the Portuguese adult education sector with the occasion to discuss inclusion and empowerment in the national basic skills provision.

The final conference was organised back to back to the EAEA annual conference.



UP-AEPRO final conference agenda

Find the recordings of the presentations, the slides, and the workshop conclusions at this link.

Read the article summarising the final conference presentations and conclusions: EAEA Annual Conference 2020: How do we keep learning during and after the pandemic?



Transnational learning activity

The UP-AEPRO learning activity took place in Brussels (Belgium), in September 2019. AE organisations staff and participants in the online course got together with the project consortium for 5 days to strengthen the understanding across countries, cultures, organisations, and practices on the implementation of the Upskilling Pathways initiative.

The learning activity took the UP-AEPRO online course in the direction of blended learning which is quite unusual for a pan-European online course.

It greatly contributed to the next steps of the project and increased the grass-roots ownership of the Upskilling Pathways initiative.

The activity had four main objectives:

  • Meet other learners as well as the project partners and share the developments on the Upskilling Pathway initiative
  • Carry out an in-depth qualitative evaluation of and propose improvements for the 4 modules
  • Get acquainted with the technical tools used by the project and be briefed on the UPAEPRO peer learning sessions’ plan
  • Deepen some of the UP initiative aspects through study visits and meetings (in combination with the EAEA younger staff training)

The methodology used was a combination of presentations, practical exercises, group discussions, and study visits.



The UP-AEPRO project consortium is composed of 6 partners from 6 different countries.


Escola Profissional Amar Terra Verde (EPATV) – Portugal



  • European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA) – Belgium
  • The National Learning and Work Institute (L&W) – United Kingdom
  • Kansanvalistusseura (KVS) – Finland
  • Glokala Folk High School – Sweden
  • Nordic Network for Adult Learning (NVL) – Denmark