Life Long Learning
The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union established decision number 1720/2006/EC on 15 November 2006 which put into motion an action program in the field of lifelong learning. Its ideology is based on the principle that education and training are essential priorities to achieve a “European Area of Higher Education” by 2010.
In March 2000 the Lisbon European Council set a deliberate goal for the European Union to become the most dynamic and competitive knowledge based economy in the world. According to them, the EU had to be capable of sustaining economic growth with better and more jobs with a superior social structure. To this end, they asked the Education Council to come up with a strategy of future educational system objectives dedicated to common concerns and priorities while respecting national diversity.
Lifelong learning in US
A report published by the “Centre for American Progress” in December 2007 highlights similar issues and reasons for adopting a lifelong education program. They argue that America’s edge over the world market in the last four decades of the twentieth century is slowly but surely being eroded. And the only way to regain this competitive superiority over world markets is to overhaul the education system and bring it in line with the 21st Century.
The United States needs to make critical adjustments to policies related to the education and training of its workforce or their education attainment levels will stagnate resulting in the slowing down of economic growth. A much slower work force growth is predicted in the next few decades and in order to boost adult worker productivity to compensate for the shortfall, a better educated workforce is required. We can no longer pursue an education policy that caters for the youth but gives up on adults.
Lack of postsecondary education
It is estimated that more than 60 million American workers between the ages of 25 to 64 have no formal postsecondary degree or credentials of any kind. Add to that the fact that 31 million people aged 16 and over have below average literacy skills. In a global economy, low literate adults are especially at risk of never being able to escape the vicious circle of having to work harder and harder just to survive.
The problem of low level education leading to low level work force skills is getting worse which is why remedial action is necessary. The paper written by the “Center for American Progress” suggests five steps that are required to overcome the aforementioned problems:
- Creating new financial incentives for employers to help their workforce attain basic skills training, improving their language abilities, and helping them get some form of postsecondary education.
- It is necessary to increase existing incentives for workers themselves to invest in their postsecondary education and attain skills that will help them to become more financially secure.
- The US Government needs to launch a nation-wide marketing campaign to help the multitude of working adults and their employers to better understand that it is in their mutual interest to have a better educated work force.
The state of Kentucky launched a radical and aggressive education and learning marketing campaign called “Go Higher!” The unprecedented success of that program should be seen as a model for the rest of the country.