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Aikuiskoulutuksen eurooppalainen foorumi



Is adult learning needed in your country? What benefits does it bring and what is the evidence?

, Markus Palmén

/it/file/adult-learning-policy-discussionAdult learning Policy Discussion

Adult learning Policy Discussion


Is adult learning needed in your country? What benefits does it bring and what is the evidence? What are the different kinds of adults and their learning needs? EPALE would love to hear your thoughts on these questions and more in this online discussion.

Share your opinion on any of the topics below and engage with your peers from across Europe in this online discussion moderated by EPALE Thematic Coordinator Markus Palmén.

  • What does ‘adult education’ mainly mean in your country for the everyday citizen? What is the main mental association?
    • One way to classify adult education could be to divide it into formal, non-formal, and informal. Does one type of adult education dominate in your country? Is this classification relevant?
  • What are the different types of adult learners in your country and what needs do they have?
    • How can adult learning best cater for these groups’ needs?
  • Who are the main providers of adult education in your country? How are they funded? Who sets the pedagogic agenda and syllabi?
  • What impact does adult education have in your country? To your knowledge, what evidence is there of this impact?
  • Who advocates for and promotes adult education in your country?

** Share your thoughts with the community in the comments below by 28 September!

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Käyttäjän Liga Abizare kuva
Within the framework of the “School 2030” project a new interdisciplinary subject has been developed in cooperation with experts of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Educational Innovation at the University of Latvia and JSC “Latvia’s State Forests” (LVM) for grade 8 - 9 students called “Forest Research”, where teachers were invited to take part in special further education courses this autumn. One-day, 12-hour (A) continuing education course “Development of Professional Competence of Teachers in Environmental Education on Sustainable Forest Management” was held on 26 and 27 September, as well as on 4 October, involving a total of 115 teachers from different schools in Latvia.
Käyttäjän Viktorija Birjukova kuva
   Of course, education gives adults the opportunity to receive a second profession in a short time and improve their professional qualifications, expand their professional competencies and capabilities, build a career, create and develop a business to become a socially significant person.
    A knowledge-based economy is growing rapidly. As a result, the technical update cycle is shortened. The life expectancy of enterprises and industries is also becoming shorter. For the first time in history, people have entered a century of almost complete uncertainty, when a degree or diploma no longer guarantees lifelong employment and steady income. This forces both professionals and people who do not have a specialty to constantly learn and retrain. The leaders think about the role of education and culture in the socio-economic development of a city, region or country.
    I think that continuous training of adults with new technologies, the acquisition of new skills in work are necessary throughout their lives and even when a person is already a pensioner.
Käyttäjän Mairita Lankupa kuva
Latvijā Valsts izglītības attīstības aģentūra piedāvā  mācīties gan strādājošajiem, gan pašnodarbinātajiem iedzīvotājiem, gan jaunām māmiņām bērna kopšanas atvaļinājuma laikā, kuras ir sasniegušas 25 gadu vecumu. Mācību piedāvājums plašs dažādās nozarēs: mediju tehnoloģijas, transports un loģistika, ēdināšanas pakalpojumi un tūrisms, lauksaimniecība, būvniecība, metālapstrāde, kokrūpniecība, elektronisko iekārtu ražošana utt. Mācības sedz ES fondi un valsts, kā arī kursu apmeklētāja līdzmaksājums, kura ir neliela daļa no kopējās summas. Bezmaksas apmācība tiek nodrošināta strādājošam iedzīvotājam ar piešķirtu maznodrošinātā statusu.
Käyttäjän Carlos CASTANHEIRO kuva
Concerning the topics pointed out, the National Agency for Qualification and Vocational Education and Training (ANQEP), as the National body responsible for Adult Education in Portugal, believes that:

1 - What does “adult education” mainly mean in your country for everyday citizen? What is the main mental association?

Although there is no formal inquiry to the population about their views on adult education, the number of participants in formal education and training offers since the “New Opportunities initiative”, launched in late 2005, leads us to believe that the “main mental association” with adult education is almost entirely restricted to formal education and training offers (understood as any offer that is part of the National Qualification System).


2 – What are the different types of adult learners in your country and what needs do they have? How can adult learning best cater for these group’s needs?

A still very significant proportion of adults have reduced skills, in Portugal. The OECD's "Implementation Guide for Skills Strategy for Portugal" states that, in 2016, 53% of Portuguese adults between the ages of 25 and 64 and 31% of those aged between 25 and 34 did not complete secondary education. In addition, there are still about half a million adults without any level of schooling.

Beyond this reality, the percentage of individuals with basic digital skills or above was, in 2016, only 47%.

As such, in our country there are different priority audiences that have to be covered by adult education and training: those who are considered illiterate; those who have low qualifications and those who need to strengthen or acquire digital skills.

As a response to this, Portugal has devised and put in place the Qualifica program (centered around the work of Qualifica Centers, that perform competence recognition and validation, as well as guidance to training offers that allow “upskilling” up to EQF level 4, as well as modular training aimed at CVET) and the Portugal INCoDE2030 Initiative (an integrated policy action aimed at strengthening the digital skills of adults).

Qualifica Centers (and their predecessors “Centers for Qualification and Vocational Training” and before that “New Opportunities Centers”) have served as the entry point to qualification pathways for many adults who have left school early and who, therefore, do not have the minimum competences for a full experience in society today.


3 – Who are the main providers of adult education in your country? How are they funded? Who sets the pedagogic agenda and syllabi?

The Qualifica Centers develop the processes of recognition and validation of competencies (RVC processes) and perform the diagnosis and guidance of adults to education and training offers developed by education and training providers, which include public and private schools, public and private training centers and other certified training providers.

In the overwhelming majority, the adult education and training depends on European funding.

The pedagogic agenda of adult education and training and of RVC processes is structured according to specific references, with benchmarks and goals to achieve, that were produced by ANQEP.


4 – What impact does adult education have in your country? To your knowledge, what evidence is there of this impact?

According to the OECD study cited above, regarding the implementation of a skills strategy for Portugal, raising the qualification of adults is crucial for economic growth and social cohesion in Portugal.

Skills Strategy implementation guidance for Portugal shows that “adults with higher levels of literacy, numeracy and problem-solving skills in a technologically rich environment, and who report using these skills, are more likely to be employed  and earn higher wages than those with lower skill levels. They also tend to be healthier, are more likely to trust others and to volunteer more. Governments also stand to gain from a population with higher skill levels: the benefits range from higher tax revenues to lower social spending”.


5 – Who advocates for and promotes adult education in your country?

ANQEP, acting under the authority of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Labor, Solidarity and Social Security, is the institution responsible for the regulation of formal adult education and training offers in Portugal. Several other promoters contribute to education and training in Portugal, from public institutions such as the Institute for Employment and Vocational Training, to private institutions such as the ones represented by our EPALE Ambassadors. Fortunately, they are too much to mention, and we believe their work is fundamental to develop lifelong learning in our country.

Käyttäjän Markus Palmén kuva
Dear discussion participants, the moderated part of this discussion reaches its end today. That does not mean that the exchange of views on these questions should stop on this page -indeed it´s fruitful to revisit some of the fundamentals in our field. 

Before offering some concluding thoughts I encourage you to engage with the next discussion, found in the link below. It deals with EU support and adult learning and opens on 1st of October!: 


Our discussion here focused first on national forms of AE, on learner groups, on providers and impact of AE. The ethos of this particular discussion suggests that AE fulfils a remedial role in society, bridging equality gaps and drawing people from the margins into the community. Personally I feel that whenever I am discussing the social benefits of AE in like-minded company, such as this forum, I feel I am preaching to the converted. However, it is the decision-makers that need to be reminded of this remedial impact as well, in addition to the more obvious and quantifiable dimension of AE- employability and upskilling. To this end we need rigorous research into the various benefits of AE.  
Käyttäjän Sarmite Pilate kuva

In Latvia there are many different adult education providers- public and private, rather many for our small number of inhabitants.  On other hand  this competition helps to raise the quality of education and possibilities to get knowledge more closely to our working or living places.

 I don`t think that adult education must be compulsory, but it is important that persons can get support from state or employer, if they need to raise their competence- professional competence for staying in labour market and personal development possibilities to take  responsible decisions and spent free time meaningfully.

Nowadays it is important to learn languages , because our life is becoming more and more global and IT skills for getting and processing information flow.

Käyttäjän Etelberto Costa kuva
Dear Markus
The reports and cases about New Opportunities were very well documented and presented in several platforms including from the Comission that show the case as one of the best examples in the EU by that time. More than 0,5 million persons reached a qualification and a certified diploma. Now the Qualifica project brings a renewal hope and a reafirmation of the  methodology that still persists and many qualified technicians are in place again. However times are changed! we have to deal now with different approaches and needs for the future. Technology changed many things (and the crisis still persists for the sector) and a huge investment in those centers is required. Please note that Adult Education in Portugal as recently (04 may)  a strategy approved with support from OCDE and EC.  
Take this opportunity to confirm that in Portugal there are also a diversity of offers, mostly public, that can be also be considered, per definition, as AE, like competencies for seniors and retired; people looking for requalification; training (informal and non-formal) by certified training centers form private sector, and so on.  The country is only one however there are a diversity of modalities specially those followed by The autonomic governments in the Islands.
Käyttäjän Armando Loureiro kuva
Adult education in Portugal

Dear Etelberto, it is true the New Opportunities were a breath of fresh air in the field of adult education in Portugal. There were some aspects that could have been improved. But what should not have happened was the interruption of the Program.
With Qualifica there is new hope, let's see the balance.
Käyttäjän Claudio MARQUES kuva

I am in adult education for several years.
And i would like to put a question. Should adult education (long life learning) be compulsive or compulsivity can help adult education?