Action Plan on Adult learning – It's never too late to learn

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Action Plan on Adult learning – It’s never too late to learn

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Action Plan on Adult learning – It’s never too late to learn


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Action Plan on Adult learning – It’s never too late to learn

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 27 September 2007 presenting the Action Plan on Adult learning – It is always a good time to learn [COM(2007) 558 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


Adult learning opportunities are not keeping pace with the needs of individuals and society. Investing in lifelong learning is essential, but the benchmark indicator for adult participation (age 25 to 64) in lifelong learning is stagnating rather than increasing in the European Union (EU).

The Action Plan aims to make lifelong learning a reality, with emphasis on the adult learning sector.

Adult learning concerns underqualified people or those whose professional skills are obsolete. This Action Plan aims to make it possible for them to acquire key competences at all stages in their lives.

In order to develop this Action Plan, the Communication draws on the results of a wide-ranging consultation organised in the first half of 2007 with the Member States, representatives of the Ministries of Education and Employment, social partners and NGOs involved in adult learning.

Implementation of the Action Plan

The method is based on the Open Method of Coordination (OMC), which offers a non-binding intergovernmental framework for exchange and concerted action. This method, which is appropriate for adult learning, entails identifying, disseminating and making use of most good practices established by the Member States by integrating them into the ” Education and Training 2010 ” work programme and the Lifelong Learning Programme.

With the indispensable support of the Member States, the specific actions contained in the Action Plan involve:

  • analysing the reforms conducted in the Member States in all sectors of education and training and their effects on adult learning. The Commission intends to obtain national reports as of 2008 on these reforms. The results of these analyses will make it possible to conduct a thorough assessment of good practices and steer the lifelong learning programme and the resulting initiatives of the EU;
  • improving the quality of services in the adult learning sector. In order to encourage participation in adult learning, the Commission is focusing on the quality of staff (teachers, training instructors, career guidance personnel, advisers, managers and administrative staff). On the basis of the good practices identified and disseminated within the Member States, the Commission plans to develop a summary of key competences by 2009 for all adult learning professionals;
  • ensuring the efficiency and visibility of adult learning, i.e. encouraging the individuals concerned to participate more in adult learning by increasing the possibilities for them to gain a higher qualification. As of 2008, the Commission will draw on the results of a research inventory of national good practices and the results of the Community Lifelong Learning Programme, in particular those of the Grundvig Programme. A call for proposals for pilot projects to increase the visibility and efficiency of adult learning will be launched in 2009;
  • speeding up the process of implementing the European Qualifications Framework. This instrument ensures the validity and recognition of the results of learning by laying emphasis on the skills acquired outside the formal education system;
  • improving the monitoring of the sector. The Commission considers it urgent to establish a common understanding of adult learning in order to improve data comparison. Core data are required in order to organise regular monitoring (every two years) of the sector. This Action Plan involves working with the Member States to produce coherent terminology and creating a glossary of core data to be collected as of 2009 in Member States wishing to contribute to the development of the Action Plan.

By the end of 2007, a working group will be set up to help the Commission and the Member States develop actions and projects on the basis of the Action Plan. A conference will be organised in the second half of 2009 in order to make an initial assessment of implementation.


The Commission bases its approach on the main challenges identified in the Communication on Adult learning – “It is never too late to learn”.

The Joint Employment Report 2006/2007 observes that a substantial improvement in adult participation in lifelong learning has not yet been achieved.

By enhancing the employability and adaptability of workers, lifelong learning has become an indissociable element of support for European competitiveness.

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