In the first six months of the European Year of Skills, we have seen a significant increase in activities in the field of adult learning and education (ALE) and a stronger outreach from other education sectors to ALE. Additionally, we have witnessed outreach to ALE from sectors working with the labour market and social affairs. EAEA has also been involved in a number of activities during the thematic year, including a kick-off event organised together with the Lifelong Learning Platform and the European Training Foundation on 23 May 2023.
In December 2022, following the announcement of the EYS, EAEA conducted an initial analysis, putting an emphasis on the promotion of a holistic understanding of skills. Taking stock of the results of the thematic year so far, we notice that the discussions in and around the EYS are very much focused on skills for the labour market. The EYS underlines EAEA’s conclusions from a policy debate and a position paper on Employment and Adult Education in 2016, namely that non-formal ALE and education for the labour market are complementary.
The learner must be at the centre of all learning
Adult learning and education has a central role in promoting skills for the workforce: It covers a wide range of learning content relevant to personal and professional development, such as basic skills, second chance education, languages, ICT, transversal and social skills. Integrating non-formal ALE and formal adult education (such as continuous vocational education and training) can be beneficial, as long as this does not neglect the values and expertise that non-formal ALE brings. The learner and their needs must be at the centre of learning, regardless of the context.
EAEA urges the European institutions and policymakers to:
- Use the remaining months of the EYS to promote a holistic understanding of skills that empowers all citizens, regardless of their status on the labour market
- Put a spotlight on life and transversal competences promoted through non-formal adult learning and education, including citizenship, green, and digital competences
- Boost learning for transformation and innovation that promotes critical thinking, reflecting, understanding, creating, and acting, as well as emotional and values learning
- Use this occasion to promote better financial and structural support for ALE across Europe, and to contribute to resilient ALE systems that increase participation in ALE
- Ensure that (adult) learners are given a voice in all activities in, and around, the EYS
- Ensure that the voice of civil society is included in all activities of the EYS
- Continue these initiatives beyond the EYS