Recent European-wide studies have shown that the adult learning sector is very diverse. This diversity can be seen in the various target groups of adult learning, subjects covered by adult learning courses, but also in the professional pathways to becoming an adult educator, the employment situation of adult learning professionals and furthermore, in the competences required for working in this sector. This diversity, however, makes it difficult to develop the sector in Europe as a whole and in particular as a dedicated profession. To partially overcome the ‘hampering diversity’ it is important to identify common elements in the work adult educators do and the key competences that come with carrying out their activities. Based on the results presented in relevant European studies, projects and reports, this paper suggests that in developing professional adult educators, competences should be understood as a complex combination of knowledge, skills and abilities/ attitudes needed to carry out a specific activity, leading to results. Any set of competences therefore can be applicable for adult educators working in the sector, by abstracting from the specific context in which these professionals work. This means that not only the teaching activities, but also other activities (for example management activities and programme development activities) must be supported by a particular set of competences.
Georgios K. Zarifis, PhD is Assistant professor of Continuing Education at the Faculty of Philosophy, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece (gzarifi firstname.lastname@example.org).
Achilleas Papadimitriou is a social researcher and a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Philosophy, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.