The positive link between employment and learning is obvious: Learning workers and employees are important for innovation, productivity, competitiveness and entrepreneurship. Workplace learning is one of the key drivers for adults’ participation in lifelong learning, and cooperation with all main stakeholders, especially the social partners, is essential.
While EAEA agrees with the importance of up- and reskilling, we would like to underline that all learning is good for employment.
EAEA promotes an approach to learning that supports key and transversal skills. A purely technical approach is in danger of teaching a limited set of skills which might become obsolete soon. If you include learning to learn, innovation and entrepreneurship together with a more in-depth interest in the field in the learning experience and outcomes, one can create lifelong learners who will be able to combine in-, non- and formal learning to stay up-to-date.
Forecasts clearly demonstrate that Europe will need more knowledge and fewer low-skilled workers in the future. The best example is the development of digitalisation.
We are at the cusp of enormous changes – from e-governments to online shopping to automatisation and all the changes that the internet will bring. This means that we need to close the digital gap and make sure that everyone is comfortable using computers, tablets or smartphones but also all other related tools.
We can also assume that many jobs are and will be disappearing and new ones will be created. Europe will need knowledge workers that can adapt quickly to these changes, and learning is the key for this capacity.
Digital skills ensure digital inclusion and participation.
Many governmental services and tools for civic participation are now available online. Digital skills ensure digital inclusion and participation. Additionally, the service industries will also see radical changes, which will also mean a reduction in human contact. The same is true for e-learning, which offers many possibilities but which also reduces the social aspect which is important for many learners.
Adult education can provide the necessary meeting spaces that are part of the well-being, mental health, solidarity and social cohesion that Europe needs.
The BeLL study shows that participation in liberal adult education generates multiple benefits for individuals. These benefits are likely to have also an impact on their immediate social groups like family, work place and other social networks, and therefore liberal adult education generates benefits for society as well. Out of the 8646 respondents, 70–87 % have experienced positive changes in learning motivation, social interaction, general well-being and life satisfaction. Less frequently experienced changes relate to work and career and to active citizenship, but even here 31–42 % have experienced some positive changes.
In Sweden ‘Study motivating folk high courses’ encouraging young job-seekers to continue their studies has seen very good results. After the course, some 40% of participants continued to either more studies or work, and over two-thirds feel motivated to study and believe that education is a route into work.
These successful special efforts are made possible because they are based on existing competences and organisations within a national structure of adult learning, state funded on a regular basis. A sustainable model for adult learning which is also flexible to meet new needs and challenges in society.