In 2009, the European Union set itself a series of objectives for education and training by 2020. This agenda, known in summary as ET2020, set four common goals, including that of ‘making lifelong learning and mobility a reality’. It also identified a number of benchmarks, one of which is that at least 15% of adults should participate in some form of lifelong learning.
Since 2009, a number of working groups have been helping to shape European policies in these different areas. The first stage of this process is now over, and the existing working groups – one of them focusing on adult learning – are due to be replaced. The new working groups will function between 2016 and 2018, by which time presumably all will be in place (or not) for the 2020 finishing line.
So who will sit on these working groups? I don’t know the names of the individuals, but the European Commission has published a list of the organisations who will nominate them. In the case of the Working Group on Adult Learning (WGAL) they are:
- BusinessEurope, an umbrella group of business organisations (including the CBI)
- The European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises
- The European Association for the Education of Adults
European Association of Vocational Education and Training Institutions
- The European Federation of Education Employers
- The European Trade Union Committee for Education
- The EuropeanTrade Union Confederation
I notice that the European Universities Continuing Education Network, which previously was represented, is not among the 2016-18 members.
The Commission has also published the ‘mandate‘ for the working groups. WGAL is asked to address the ‘concrete issues’ of promoting and widening the availability of workplace learning and responding to demands for workforce up- and re-skilling, especially for the low and mid-skilled.
There is no scope, then, for learning as personal development or active citizenship. However, the two vocational goals are understood in comparatively broad terms, so that WGAL will also be asked to consider such matters as migrant integration and intergenerational solidarity, albeit within the context of workforce skills. And there is a separate working group on promoting citizenship, whose remit is currently limited to children and young people; if we wish to expand their remit, then that means a bit of work.