Key Competencies for Life Long Learning

Lifelong learning has become a necessity for all citizens. We need to develop our skills and competences throughout our lives, not only for our personal fulfilment and our ability to actively engage with the society in which we live, but for our ability to be successful in a constantly changing world of work.

The knowledge, skills and aptitudes of the European workforce are a major factor in the EU’s innovation, productivity and competitiveness. Growing internationalisation, the rapid pace of change, and the continuous roll-out of new technologies mean that Europeans must not only keep their specific job-related skills up-to-date, but also possess the generic competences that will enable them to adapt to change. People’s competences also contribute to their motivation and job satisfaction in the workplace, thereby affecting the quality of their work.

The ways in which we access information and services continue to change. We need new competences to master a whole new digital world, not only by acquiring technical skills, but also by gaining a deeper understanding of the opportunities, challenges and even ethical questions posed by new technologies.

In this climate of rapid change, there is increasing concern about our social cohesion. There is a risk that many Europeans feel left behind and marginalised by globalisation and the digital revolution. The resulting threat of alienation implies a need to nurture democratic citizenship; it requires people to be informed and concerned about their society and active in it. The knowledge, skills and aptitudes that everyone needs must change as a result.

It is against this back-drop that the Council and the European Parliament adopted, at the end of 2006, a European Framework for Key Competences for Lifelong Learning. The Framework identifies and defines, for the first time at the European level, the key competences that citizens require for their personal fulfilment, social inclusion, active citizenship and employability in our knowledge-based society. The Member States’ initial education and training systems should support the development of these competences for all young people, and their adult education and training provision should give real opportunities to all adults to learn and maintain these skills and competences.

I am sure that the European Framework for Key Competences will prove to be a useful tool for policymakers, and for education and training providers and learners, in order to make lifelong learning a reality for all. I encourage everyone involved to make the best use of this reference tool, and, alongside the European Commission, to support its dissemination and take-up.

Jαn Figel’

Member of the European Commission, responsible for Education, Training, Culture and Youth

Source: European Commission (2007). Key Competences for Lifelong Learning – European Reference Framework, Luxemburg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, p. 1.