In This Article Lifelong Learning

  • Introduction
  • Equity
  • Institutional Change
  • Journals
  • Bibliographies
  • Textbooks

Education Lifelong Learning
by
Toby Linden
  • LAST MODIFIED: 15 December 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0024

Introduction

The concept of lifelong learning is increasingly being used to frame education and training policy reforms in countries from both the developed and developing worlds. However, there are two different definitions of lifelong learning, with different policy implications: the first emphasizes that all types of learning, from the youngest ages to the oldest and of different types (formal, informal, and nonformal), need to be considered as part of lifelong learning. The alternative conception is learning that takes place after compulsory education, when an individual enters the labor market or goes into higher education (here, too, learning can be of a formal or informal nature). With the upsurge in interest in the concept, there are now a number of methodologies for measuring lifelong learning, as well as detailed country studies (including studies that use comparable approaches). Moreover, there are a number of synonyms for the concept, such as “lifelong education,” “recurrent education,” and “life-wide education.” Lifelong learning concepts are intended to profoundly reorient countries’ education and training systems in order to respond to changes in countries’ economies where knowledge generation, adaptation, and use play an increasingly large role. These changes in the nature of firms’ competitive advantage imply changing skills and competencies needed by workers. Moving towards a lifelong learning system is also seen as desirable because it will address equity concerns.

General Overviews

The interest in the concept of lifelong learning stems primarily from the premise that successful economies will be those that become “knowledge economies,” where value added is driven by the use of knowledge products in all sectors of the economy. This knowledge economy requires workers to have different skills and knowledge to be effective—skills and knowledge that are also necessary for successful social development.

Defining Lifelong Learning

The term “lifelong learning” has no universally accepted definition or standard use in the literature. Federighi 1999 outlines all the different concepts. As the term has assumed greater importance in policy debates, more actors have tried to appropriate it. Ryan 1999 and David and Foray 2002 are good introductions to the history of concepts related to lifelong learning since the 1970s, as is the landmark UNESCO study Learning: The Treasure Within (UNESCO Task Force on Education for the Twenty-First Century 1996). There are two quite different conceptions of lifelong learning. The first emphasizes that all types of learning, from the youngest ages to the oldest and of different types (formal, informal, and nonformal), need to be considered as part of lifelong learning (World Bank 2007 and Jarvis 2008). In this conception, the emphasis is on the importance of the continuity of learning experiences that an individual has throughout his or her life, and, from the policy perspective, on the importance of seeing different periods of learning as linked, open, and not necessarily sequential. The alternative conception of lifelong learning is of learning that takes place after initial education (usually compulsory education), when an individual enters the labor market or goes into higher education; here too learning can be of a formal or informal nature. The higher education (see Taylor and Watson 1998), vocational and technical education and training (see International Labour Organization 2008), and adult education sectors have argued vigorously that they embody the new lifelong learning paradigm. (See Formal, Nonformal, and Informal Learning).

  • David, Paul A., and Dominique Foray. 2002. An introduction to the economy of the knowledge society. International Social Science Journal 54.171: 9–23.

    DOI: 10.1111/1468-2451.00355E-mail Citation »

    The most useful aspects of this nontechnical summary are (1) the distinction between knowledge and information, and (2) a discussion of how knowledge is transmitted, controlled, and made available to individuals and companies.

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    • Federighi, Paolo, ed. 1999. Glossary of adult learning in Europe. A.E. Monographs. Hamburg: UNESCO Institute for Higher Education.

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      Contains short explanations of more than one hundred terms, including many relevant to lifelong learning. Of particular interest are translations or equivalences of words in languages other than English. Published in conjunction with the European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA).

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      • International Labour Organization. 2008. Conclusions on skills for improved productivity, employment growth and development. Geneva, Switzerland: International Labour Office.

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        The International Labour Office (ILO) is one of the major international organizations concerned with the knowledge economy and lifelong learning. It focuses on the implications for workers and their ability to find good, productive work. This document sets out the ILO’s policy views.

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        • Jarvis, Peter, ed. 2008. The Routledge international handbook of lifelong learning. London: Routledge.

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          Sets the benchmark for a comprehensive and balanced treatment of many topics in lifelong learning.

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          • Ryan, R. J. 1999. From recurrent education to lifelong learning. Paper presented at the Invitational Seminar on the Delors Report: “Learning—The Treasure Within,” organized by the Flinders Univ. Institute of International Education. Adelaide, Australia: Flinders Univ. Institute of International Education.

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            A nontechnical and sympathetic introduction to the key historical developments of the concept of lifelong learning and its related terms.

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            • Taylor, R., and D. Watson. 1998. Lifelong learning and the university: A post-Dearing agenda. London: Falmer.

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              A good example of higher education practitioners arguing for an extended role for universities, by being seen as the site of lifelong learning for adults for all kinds; that is, the university should not just be about formal degrees. The focus is exclusively on the UK, as the book was written in response to the Dearing Report, a policy report for the government.

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              • UNESCO Task Force on Education for the Twenty-First Century. 1996. Learning: The treasure within: Report to UNESCO of the International Commission on Education for the Twenty-First Century. Paris: UNESCO.

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                One of the fundamental texts on lifelong learning, arguing for an expansive view of learning to include formal, nonformal, and informal learning. Often called “The Delors Report” after the chairman of the task force, Jacques Delors.

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                • World Bank. 2007. Lifelong learning in the global knowledge economy: Challenges for developing countries. Washington, DC: World Bank.

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                  Lays out the agenda for the World Bank in working with its developing country partners on transposing the concepts of lifelong learning into the education reform agenda in those countries.

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                  The Knowledge Economy

                  The growing interest in lifelong learning is in significant part a response of international organizations and governments to the profound economic changes they see around them. Lifelong learning is a way for individuals to, in the first conception of lifelong learning, acquire the core skills, knowledge, and competencies they need in order to remain capable of being, and interested in being, lifelong learners, or, in the second conception, to enable those individuals to have continued access to the learning opportunities they need to upgrade and extend their skills and knowledge once they are in the labor market. These conceptions of lifelong learning were (and are) championed by international organizations with a strong economic focus (such as the World Bank and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). There is a broad consensus among economists that modern economies are driven by skill-biased technological change; Ackerman, et al. 1998 and Machin 2003 are clear statements of this theory in general terms. The demand for higher skills exists not only in high-tech sectors (Baldwin and Beckstead 2003), which means that fewer jobs will be available for those with lower skills across the whole economy. This view has also been articulated at the country level (see Spitz-Oener 2006 for [West] Germany). This general approach, however, has been challenged in a number of ways. Thompson, et al. 2000 provides a critique of the claims that the modern workplace is indeed demanding more and more skills, arguing instead that it is more common to have underemployment, where the credentials demanded are increasing without commensurate real changes in the nature of work. In fact, technology has, for many people, especially in the service sector, reduced the complexity of their work. Dore 2004 accepts the increasing skills demands but argues for a stronger state role, rather than relying on individual action, to address increasing inequalities. Cully 2003, using Australian data, shows how different sources of evidence can lead to different conclusions about whether occupational skill structures have changed. The concept of lifelong learning is also seen as a way to address social problems, because a lifelong learning system would enable everyone to access opportunities for further learning. See, for example, the European Commission’s Europe 2020 growth strategy. Labor associations and unions have also seen these trends and seek to use lifelong learning as a protection against eroding wages, job insecurity, and inequality, and to support “better jobs” (see International Labour Organization 2008, cited under Defining Lifelong Learning).

                  • Ackerman, Frank, R. Neva Goodwin, Laurie Dougherty, and Kevin Gallagher, eds. 1998. The changing nature of work. Washington, DC: Island Press.

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                    Though this book is now rather old, it does contain useful summaries of many important articles in various topics. It has a focus on labor economics.

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                    • Baldwin, John R., and Desmond Beckstead. 2003. Knowledge workers in Canada’s economy, 1971 to 2001. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

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                      Using extensive government databases, this analytical paper charts the proportion for workers that could be considered “knowledge workers.” It shows that the increasing numbers of these workers are not just in the high-tech industries but are diffused much more widely in the economy. Focus is on Canada only.

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                      • Cully, Mark. 2003. Pathways to knowledge work. Adelaide, Australia: National Centre for Vocational Education Research.

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                        This study examines, through two different approaches, the distribution of types of occupation in Australia between 1986 and 2001. The first uses census data and yields a shift towards knowledge work, while the second approach, using a reliable source to give a cognitive skill score for specific occupations, does not.

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                        • Dore, Ronald. 2004. New forms and meanings of work in an increasingly globalized world. Lectures presented at the 6th ILO Social Policy Lectures and Symposium. Geneva, Switzerland: International Institute for Labour Studies.

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                          These papers take as given the move towards a more knowledge-based society but seek to examine critically how to respond to the likelihood that significant segments of the working-age population will be disadvantaged and left out by these trends. Lectures also available online as audio files.

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                          • European Commission. Europe 2020

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                            The Europe 2020 growth strategy is the successor to the Lisbon Strategy, which expired in 2010. It seeks to make the European Union both economically competitive and socially progressive. Lifelong learning is at the center of this strategy. The strategy sets overall targets for the EU, while each member state will have to define its own targets and strategy to reach them.

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                            • Machin, Stephen. 2003. Skill-biased technical change in the new economy. In New economy handbook. Edited by Derek C. Jones, 565–581. San Diego, CA: Elsevier.

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                              Sets out the view that skill-based technological change has been the main factor driving the changing organization of work.

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                              • Spitz-Oener, Alexandra. 2006. Technical change, job tasks, and rising educational demands: Looking outside the wage structure. Journal of Labor Economics 24.2: 235–270.

                                DOI: 10.1086/499972E-mail Citation »

                                This article uses a dataset from West Germany to document the rise in skills demands in occupations, especially in those sectors with heavy use of computer technology. The dataset goes back to 1979.

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                                • Thompson, Paul, Chris Warhurst, and George Callaghan. 2000. Human capital or capitalising on humanity? Knowledge, skills and competencies in interactive service work. In Managing knowledge: Critical investigations of work and learning. Edited by Craig Prichard, Richard Hull, Mike Chumer, and Hugh Willmott, 122–140. Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan.

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                                  This critical paper argues that the service sector is generally characterized by jobs requiring low-level skills and knowledge, and as such one cannot equate the expansion of the service sector as an indication of a move towards a knowledge economy.

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                                  The Need for Different Skills

                                  A key idea underlying the concept of lifelong learning is that individuals not only need more education, but that they are required to learn different things. Murmane and Levy 1996, a classic analysis of successful large American companies, argued that these companies seek not only “hard skills”—basic mathematics and problem-solving abilities, though at levels much higher than many high school graduates attain—but also “soft skills”—the ability to work in groups and to make effective oral and written presentations, and the ability to use personal computers to carry out simple tasks like word processing. Subsequently, more detailed and cross-disciplinary analyses, such as Rychen and Salganik 2003, have produced similar lists of “competencies” (now the accepted term to cover skills, knowledge, and capacities); see also Council of the European Union 2010. These later analyses also emphasize that the competencies are needed for successful integration into both the economy and society.

                                  • Council of the European Union. 2010. Council conclusions on “New Skills for New Jobs: The way forward.” Brussels: Council of the European Union.

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                                    This is the seminal declaration of the highest executive body of the European Union (EU) about the importance of the EU in becoming an economy that is knowledge-based, inclusive, and sustainable, and provides good employment opportunities for all. It identifies the different roles of the EU and its member states.

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                                    • Murnane, Richard, and Frank Levy. 1996. Teaching the new basic skills: Principles for educating children to thrive in a changing economy. New York: Free Press.

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                                      This classic text sets out the set of “new basic skills” that employees need, such as the ability to work in groups, to make effective oral and written presentations, and to use personal computers to carry out simple tasks like word processing. The argument is based on a detailed examination of competitive US companies.

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                                      • Rychen, Dominique Simone, and Laura Hersh Salganik. 2003. Key competencies for a successful life and a well-functioning society. Cambridge, MA, and Göttingen, Germany: Hofgrefe.

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                                        This book sets out the conclusions of a multidisciplinary study conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on the key competencies individuals need to be successful in economic and social life. These competencies have since underpinned some key OECD investigations, including the Programme in International Student Assessment (PISA), which aim to document trends.

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                                        Assessing Lifelong Learning Systems

                                        This section looks at different approaches to measuring countries’ progress on building lifelong learning systems. Internationally comparative indexes have been developed, as a well as country-specific policy analyses.

                                        Methodologies for Measuring Lifelong Learning

                                        The attention of policymakers to issues of lifelong learning has meant that there is a large literature on assessing the performance of countries. Several international organizations have been at the forefront of developing these methodologies and, as a consequence, their approaches have tended to place lifelong learning within the context of the knowledge economy more broadly. For example, the World Bank’s Knowledge Assessment Methodology bases its analysis around four knowledge economy “pillars”: Economic Incentive and Institutional Regime, Education, Innovation, and Information and Communications Technologies. Elements of lifelong learning are mainly in the Education pillar (enrollment, spending, and student achievement at different levels of education) but also appear in the Innovation pillar (science and engineering enrollment ratio). Another similar approach is taken by the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, based on its Global Competitiveness Index, which measures 109 indicators and compiles them into twelve pillars; those relevant to lifelong learning include: health and primary education, higher education and training, labor market efficiency, technological readiness, and innovation (see the Forum’s Global Competitiveness page on its website). Both of these methodologies gather data on almost every country in the world and can produce rankings. Their respective websites enable the reader to customize reports and comparisons. The European Union (EU) is also gathering data on its countries, as part of its Europe 2020 strategy to promote high levels of employment, productivity, and social cohesion.

                                        • European Commission. Europe 2020.

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                                          This is the overall strategy of the EU to create a smart, sustainable, and inclusive economy, a key component of which is lifelong learning. The strategy sets targets for the EU as a whole, while each member state is expected to prepare national plans and targets.

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                                          • World Bank. Knowledge Assessment Methodology.

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                                            In its analysis, the World Bank uses four “knowledge economy pillars” to group 109 structural and qualitative variables for 146 countries. The pillars on education and innovation are particularly relevant for lifelong learning. The database is updated as more data becomes available.

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                                            • World Economic Forum. Global Competitiveness.

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                                              The World Economic Forum produces an annual report in which it ranks all the countries in its database, across each of twelve pillars. Five of the pillars directly include elements of lifelong learning.

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                                              OECD Country Studies

                                              International comparisons enable countries to measure themselves against each other and identify areas of weakness. The next step is to consider how countries might improve their policies and practices in order to make improvements. The majority of studies deal with developed economies and countries, and in particular have been conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The OECD has looked across multiple countries on different aspects of the lifelong learning system, with an emphasis on identifying good policy and practice. Particularly helpful is the fact that these OECD studies have emerged from country studies using the same framework; and these countries studies are available online (see following references). For example, eighteen countries participated in the OECD Thematic Review on Adult Learning, which looked at the extent to which adults are able to participate in further learning, either as part of their training to entry the labor market or later in life, once they have been employed (or indeed become unemployed). Tertiary education is examined in the OECD Thematic Review of Tertiary Education and Santiago, et al. 2008. Of particular interest is understanding how OECD countries are responding to the challenge of increased competition among providers of tertiary education and training, which relinquishes authority to institutions while instituting effective quality assurance so the education and training market works effectively. The OECD has also studied more narrow topics of interest. There are assessments of skills and competencies of fifteen-year-olds in mathematics and science (the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment that use the categorization of skills found in Rychen and Salganik 2003. Finally, national qualifications frameworks (NQFs) are seen as one method for enabling individuals and companies to recognize acquired competencies and enable better transitions into and through the labor market. However, there is mixed evidence on the effectiveness of these interventions, with OECD (see The Role of National Qualifications Systems in Promoting Lifelong Learning) having a more positive assessment than the International Labour Organization (see Allais 2010). Finland and Ireland are generally seen as good case studies for lifelong learning: Finland is described well in Dahlman, et al. 2005, while Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development 2006 is a good introduction to Ireland.

                                              • Allais, Stephanie. 2010. Implementation and impact of NQFs: Report of a study in 16 countries. Geneva, Switzerland: International Labour Organization.

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                                                This report is based on country studies of sixteen countries, some of them having established NQFs and some in the early stages of implementation. It reaches generally negative conclusions about the NQFs.

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                                                • Dahlman, Carl J., Jorma Routti, and Pekka Ylä-Anttila, eds. 2005. Finland as a knowledge economy: Elements of success and lessons learned. Washington, DC: World Bank.

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                                                  On most measures, Finland is seen as having made most progress on lifelong learning, and this study identifies the elements of this success. An overview is available online.

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                                                  • Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. OECD Programme for International Student Assessment.

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                                                    The assessment developed by the Programme in International Student Assessment tests fifteen-year-olds every three years in reading, mathematics, and science. More than seventy countries now participate in this benchmark assessment, which specifically measures the application of knowledge and analytical skills rather than curriculum-based learning. The next assessment will be in 2012.

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                                                    • Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The Role of National Qualifications Systems in Promoting Lifelong Learning.

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                                                      This is the first comprehensive, multicountry review of national qualification systems, which many policymakers see as integral to promoting lifelong learning. Has a generally positive assessment of developments and identifies good practice.

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                                                      • Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Thematic Review on Adult Learning.

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                                                        Countries are increasingly seeing the importance of ensuring that adults already in the labor force have opportunities to continue their learning. This OECD multicountry study, with a final report published in 2005, provides an overview of the key issues facing countries and identifies good practice across the seventeen countries that participated in the review.

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                                                        • Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Thematic Review of Tertiary Education.

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                                                          The OECD was the first major organization to push the concept of tertiary education to cover all of postsecondary education and training, and to argue that the university subsector (“higher education”) should be seen as integrally linked to other postsecondary institutions. This review set the benchmark for this conceptual understanding. It covers twenty-four OECD countries.

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                                                          • Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. 2006. Reviews of national policies for education: Higher education in Ireland. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

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                                                            Ireland has been highly successful in using its education and training policies to reach a larger proportion of the population, and this report provides an expert review of progress. Ireland is seen as providing a successful path for other countries to follow in developing a lifelong learning system.

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                                                            • Rychen, Dominique Simone, and Laura Hersh Salganik. 2003. Key competencies for a successful life and a well-functioning society. Cambridge, MA, and Göttingen, Germany: Hofgrefe.

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                                                              Provides a multidisciplinary approach to defining the key skills that individuals will need to be successful in the labor market and to promote social cohesion. The skills identified have been at the core of much of the OECD work on measuring progress towards lifelong learning.

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                                                              • Santiago, Paul, Karine Tremblay, Ester Basri, and Elena Arnal. 2008. Tertiary education in the knowledge society. 2 vols. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

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                                                                A follow-up to the OECD Thematic Review of Tertiary Education, with a specific focus on how tertiary education links to the economy to promote innovation and competitiveness.

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                                                                Other Country Studies

                                                                In recent years, there has been an increasing number of studies of countries outside the richest countries, as policymakers have sought to utilize the concept (or slogan) of lifelong learning promoted by international agencies. David Ashton and Francis Green (with various collaborators) have published a number of books and articles about East Asia, and Ashton, et al. 1999 is an important analysis of how the education and training systems evolved to meet the changing needs of the economies of Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea. Zhang 2009, meanwhile, shows the extent to which they have become lifelong learning systems. Suh and Chen 2007 provides a more contemporary analysis of Korea, with less historical perspective, using the World Bank’s Knowledge Assessment Methodology (cited under Methodologies for Measuring Lifelong Learning). Particular challenges are presented by the very largest countries, since a key element of lifelong learning is to see the different parts of the system as connected with a coherent policy framework. Dalhman, et al. 2007 looks at China, where there is also an emphasis on the potential role of technology, through the provision of education and training at a distance; Utz and Dalhman 2007 and Rodriguez, et al. 2008 analyze India and Brazil, respectively, and see major issues because of a lack of equitable access to education and training. A further challenge is to situate lifelong learning in the poorest countries, given the problems of access to basic education and other basic services in these nations. Utz 2006 looks at Tanzania and argues that using the lifelong learning framework will help shape education developments, while Aitchison 2004 is more skeptical about the relevance of the concept in South Africa.

                                                                • Aitchison, John. 2004. Lifelong learning in South Africa: Dreams and delusions. International Journal of Lifelong Education 23.6: 517–544.

                                                                  DOI: 10.1080/026037042000311451E-mail Citation »

                                                                  Analyzes the impact the concept of lifelong learning has had in the education reform process in South Africa, but concludes that the main developments have been in the area of basic education and adult literacy rather than a fuller concept of lifelong learning. Includes a useful bibliography of local documents, so the reader can follow the evolution of government policy pronouncements.

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                                                                  • Ashton, David, Francis Green, Donna James, and Johnny Sung. 1999. Education and training for development in East Asia: The political economy of skill formation in East Asian newly industrialized countries. London: Routledge.

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                                                                    An evidence-based historical analysis of the relationship between the education and training system and the changing economy; in particular, the state is seen as ensuring the system anticipates, not simply responds to, changing needs in order to push the countries’ development toward higher-value production.

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                                                                    • Dalhman, Carl J., Douglas Zhihua Zeng, and Shuilin Wang. 2007. Enhancing China’s competitiveness through lifelong learning. WBI Development Studies. Washington, DC: World Bank.

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                                                                      Uses the World Bank’s Knowledge Assessment Methodology (cited under Methodologies for Measuring Lifelong Learning) to understand how China might respond to the massive need to upgrade the skills of workers, and sees distance education as a key part of that response. Executive summary available online.

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                                                                      • Rodriguez, Alberto, Carl Dahlman, and Jamil Salmi. 2008. Knowledge and innovation for competitiveness in Brazil. WBI Development Studies. Washington, DC: World Bank.

                                                                        DOI: 10.1596/978-0-8213-7438-2E-mail Citation »

                                                                        Uses the World Bank’s Knowledge Assessment Methodology (cited under Methodologies for Measuring Lifelong Learning) and argues that Brazil must address equity issues in pursuing lifelong learning.

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                                                                        • Suh, Joonghae, and Derek H. C. Chen. 2007. Korea as a knowledge economy: Evolutionary process and lessons learned. WBI Development Studies. Washington, DC: World Bank.

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                                                                          Uses the World Bank’s Knowledge Assessment Methodology (cited under Methodologies for Measuring Lifelong Learning) and argues that the link to science and research has been critical for Korea’s development and will be central to future competitiveness. Overview available online.

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                                                                          • Utz, Anuja. 2006. Fostering innovation, productivity, and technological change: Tanzania in the knowledge economy. WBI Working Paper. Washington, DC: World Bank.

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                                                                            Uses the World Bank’s Knowledge Assessment Methodology (cited under Methodologies for Measuring Lifelong Learning) to look at a relatively poor country, and argues that policy reforms should be driven by the lifelong learning perspective.

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                                                                            • Utz, Anuja, and Carl Dahlman. 2007. Promoting inclusive innovation in India. WBI Working Paper. Washington, DC: World Bank.

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                                                                              India presents many contrasts, which are highlighted by its dynamic innovation but also by wide disparities in access to quality, basic education. The authors argue that promoting more inclusive innovation will be essential to address both economic and social needs.

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                                                                              • Zhang, Weiyuan. 2009. Theories, policy, and practice of lifelong learning in East Asia. London: Routledge.

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                                                                                This book, first published as a special issue of the International Journal of Lifelong Education, contains a collection of important articles looking at mainland China, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau.

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                                                                                Government Programs of Action

                                                                                Many countries have now explicitly focused their education and training reforms within the context of a lifelong learning system. A large number of these policy documents can be reached through the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training’s Lifelong Learning—Bibliography. Examples include those produced by the United Kingdom, such as UK Department for Education and Employment 1999, which sees lifelong learning as being about post-secondary education, and in particular about trying to give young people a successful transition from school to the labor market. Coffield 2000 provides a skeptical view about whether centrally driven government initiatives—which is how he sees the proposed government approach—are likely to succeed. In the United States, given its highly decentralized system of education and training, the national role is defined more in terms of data collection and analysis (Binkley, et al. 2000). Ashton and Green 1996 is an important corrective to a neoliberal view that the demand signals from the economy will generate a supply of appropriately skilled workers; the study looks in particular at the successful East Asian economies, and the authors argue that the role of the state in directing change is critical. Green 2002 shows how the apparently common policies pursued within lifelong learning across countries disguise a great many differences in practice.

                                                                                • Ashton, David N., and Francis Green. 1996. Education, training and the global economy. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

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                                                                                  Drawing on their examination of the success of East Asian economies, the authors argue for the important role that the state played in anticipating skill needs as the economies developed, and in adjusting education and training provision to meet them.

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                                                                                  • Binkley, Marilyn, Lisa Hudson, Paula Knepper, Andy Kolstad, Peter Stowe, and John Wirt. 2000. Lifelong Learning NCES Task Force: Final report, volume 1. NCES Working Paper 2000-16a. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

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                                                                                    This is the first volume of the final report of a task force of the National Center for Education Statistics. It tries to identify key indicators for assessing progress in lifelong learning; these indicators have been used since the report was published to measure trends in the United States. Volume 2 also available online.

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                                                                                    • Coffield, Frank. 2000. Lifelong learning as a lever on structural change? Evaluation of white paper: Learning to succeed: A new framework for post-16 learning. Journal of Education Policy 15.2: 237–246.

                                                                                      DOI: 10.1080/026809300285926E-mail Citation »

                                                                                      The author is skeptical about whether centrally driven government initiatives (which is how he sees the proposed approach by the UK government) are likely to succeed.

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                                                                                      • European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP). Lifelong Learning—Bibliography.

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                                                                                        A very large and very useful collection of resources, papers, and books, all with weblinks; in particular, it identifies many government policy papers.

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                                                                                        • Green, Andy. 2002. The many faces of lifelong learning: Recent education policy trends in Europe. Journal of Education Policy 17.6: 611–626.

                                                                                          DOI: 10.1080/0268093022000032274E-mail Citation »

                                                                                          A critical examination of several European countries’ approaches to lifelong learning, and the extent to which recent education policy reforms are likely to be progressive.

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                                                                                          • UK Department for Education and Employment. 1999. Learning to succeed: A new framework for post-16 learning. London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office.

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                                                                                            The (then) new Labour government produced a series of policy papers on reforms in education and training. They tend to see lifelong learning as being about postsecondary education. This report looks at individuals coming toward the end of secondary education and their transition to the labor market.

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                                                                                            Where Learning Takes Place

                                                                                            People learn new things in a variety of settings, not just in the classroom of a formal educational institution. This is not only a statement of fact, but is seen by many as a normative principle. This helps make lifelong learning a reality, since it is not practical, necessary, or desirable for everyone to learn everything in the classroom. This section distinguishes different types of learning (formal, nonformal, and informal learning). In addition, to help promote further learning and labor market outcomes, this learning must be measured (accredited or certified) in some way and made transparent to individuals, institutions, and employers (see citations under Accreditation of Prior Learning).

                                                                                            Formal, Nonformal, and Informal Learning

                                                                                            A central principle of discussions of lifelong learning is that learning (the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and competencies) takes place in many settings. Livingstone 2001 gives a very good overview of the argument that what is learned in formal courses at traditional institutions (schools, colleges, and universities), and thus measured by traditional tests and examinations, reflects only one educational setting and possibly not the most significant one. While the essays in Coffield 2000 focus on the United Kingdom, they advocate strongly for this view. Formal, nonformal, and informal learning are often distinguished. Formal learning is organized, structured, and has specific learning objectives, and the learner is intentionally engaged in learning to acquire the formal qualification. Informal learning is the opposite end of the spectrum: it is not organized, there are no learning objectives, and the learning is unintentional (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development 2010). Somewhere along this continuum is nonformal learning, which can have characteristics of both the formal and the informal (Malcolm, et al. 2003) in varying degrees.

                                                                                            • Coffield, Frank, ed. 2000. The necessity of informal learning. Bristol, UK: Policy Press.

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                                                                                              This collection of essays argues, with a focus on the United Kingdom, that formal learning and the certification that goes with it has for too long been given prominence in policy discussions. Other types of learning need more attention to recognize the contribution they make to the economy and society.

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                                                                                              • Livingstone, D. W. 2001. Adults’ informal learning: Definitions, findings, gaps and future research. NALL Working Paper 21. Toronto: Centre for the Study of Education and Work, OISE/UT.

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                                                                                                A very good nontechnical summary of the definition and policy significance of adults’ informal learning.

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                                                                                                • Malcolm, Janice, Phil Hodkinson, and Helen Colley. 2003. The interrelationships between informal and formal learning. Journal of Workplace Learning 15.7–8: 313–318.

                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1108/13665620310504783E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  A good introduction to the view that there is no sharp distinction between formal and informal learning, and that the two are usually found together, though in different degrees.

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                                                                                                  • Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. 2010. Recognising non-formal and informal learning: Outcomes, policies and practices. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

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                                                                                                    An important review of the recognition for nonformal and informal learning, drawing on the experiences of twenty-two OECD countries, and identifying good practice. This report provides a nice clear statement of different types of learning and their importance.

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                                                                                                    The Role of Technology

                                                                                                    There are enthusiasts such as Susan Imel who see the vast amount of information available on the Internet and conclude that formal qualifications will become much less important (Imel 2003). Milheim 2007 finds positive learning outcomes for adults using technology to enhance traditional classroom instruction for literacy. However, Gorard and Selwyn 2000 is much more pessimistic about the potential of new technologies to open up new opportunities for all, based on an examination of the United Kingdom experience, and the authors see technology as generally increasing inequalities.

                                                                                                    • Gorard, Stephen, and Neil Selwyn. 2000. Investigating the role of technology in widening participation in lifelong learning: Final report. Chicago: Spencer Foundation.

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                                                                                                      Examines the United Kingdom experience of the technology-oriented “University for Industry” and “learndirect,” and concludes that technology has not yet delivered on the promises of its enthusiasts.

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                                                                                                      • Imel, Susan. 2003. Informal adult learning and the Internet. Trends and Issues Alert 50. Washington, DC: Office of Educational Research and Improvement.

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                                                                                                        A passionate articulation of the promise of technology in the modern age to promote learning for all.

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                                                                                                        • Milheim, Karen L. 2007. Influence of technology on informal learning. Adult Basic Education and Literacy Journal 1.1: 21–26.

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                                                                                                          Looks at the specific issue of adults’ use of technology to supplement their learning in traditional classrooms, especially in literacy programs. Finds positive learning outcomes.

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                                                                                                          Accreditation of Prior Learning

                                                                                                          If important competencies can be and are learned outside formal institutions and courses, then the next challenge is to find ways to measure and certify (accredit) these competencies, either to enable people to qualify for jobs or to participate in formal courses. This is especially the case for institutions of higher education, which, as part of their efforts to increase enrollments, have sought ways to accredit informal learning so as to reach out to more people who might be interested in learning but who do not have the formal qualifications to attend a postsecondary school. There is a vast literature on “accreditation or recognition of prior learning” and postsecondary institutions of all kinds have been developing mechanisms to do this. Australia has a long history of an effective vocational education and training system, and of accreditation of prior learning. Bateman and Knight 2003; Bowman, et al. 2003; and Hargreaves 2006 are good summaries of the current status. Bjornavold 2000 focuses on Europe, while Evans 2000 has the most global scope. Again, the multicountry OECD studies are an excellent source of both country developments and international good practice (see Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development 2010a and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development 2010b), regarding both contextual factors and how systems are organized, with their legal frameworks, procedures, and technical arrangements. The twenty-two countries covered in the two OECD reports, for all of whom there are background country studies available on the website, are Australia, Austria, Belgium (Flanders), Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

                                                                                                          Qualifications Frameworks

                                                                                                          One particular aspect of lifelong learning systems that has received a lot of attention, especially in OECD countries and the European Union, is qualifications frameworks. These frameworks provide a mechanism to make more transparent the hierarchy of qualifications within a field, to compare the expectations of qualifications across different fields, and to promote mobility of individuals through the portability of qualifications from one setting (and indeed one country) to another. The most comprehensive investigation is Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development 2007, but Coles 2006 and Westerhuis 2001 cover the European setting, too. An important element of the new approach to qualifications is that they are designed in a modular way, meaning they are built up of distinct units. In this way individuals can acquire the competencies for qualification over time, while attaining each module in the setting at the time of their choosing. However, Allais 2010 is a more recent review that sees very little evidence that national qualification systems have had the advertised benefits.

                                                                                                          • Allais, Stephanie. 2010. Implementation and impact of NQFs: Report of a study in 16 countries. Geneva, Switzerland: International Labour Organization.

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                                                                                                            Taking a case study approach, this report examines the experience of sixteen countries, some with long experience of qualifications systems and some new to it. It sees very little evidence that these systems have had the impact that advocates suggest.

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                                                                                                            • Coles, Mike. 2006. A review of international and national developments in the use of qualifications frameworks. Turin, Italy: European Training Foundation.

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                                                                                                              Coles’s report provides a comprehensive and detailed overview of some of the key issues that will need to be taken into account by national policymakers in deciding how to move forward in the reform of their vocational education and training systems.

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                                                                                                              • European Commission. The European Qualifications Framework (EQF)

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                                                                                                                The European Qualifications Framework acts as a translation device to make national qualifications more readable across Europe, promoting workers’ and learners’ mobility between countries and facilitating their lifelong learning.

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                                                                                                                • Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. 2007. Qualifications systems: Bridges to lifelong learning. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

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                                                                                                                  Looks at the experience of twenty-two countries in developing qualifications systems, draws generally positive conclusions about their importance, and identifies good practice. Individual background country studies are also available on the website.

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                                                                                                                  • Westerhuis, A. 2001. European structures of qualification levels: A synthesis based on reports on recent developments in Germany, Spain, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom (England and Wales). Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.

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                                                                                                                    A desk study for the European Commission summarizing the experience of qualifications systems in European countries with the longest history in the field.

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                                                                                                                    Equity

                                                                                                                    The theme of equity—whether all subgroups within the population receive the access to lifelong learning opportunities that they need or desire—is among the most central, as well as one of the most contested, topics. On the one hand, lifelong learning is seen as a key response to promote social inclusion, but on the other hand, it is clear that present systems of education and training tend to widen skills gaps (and hence socioeconomic divisions), because those with higher skills get more access to further learning opportunities. Osborne, et al. 2004 is a good international overview, while Salas-Velasco 2007 is a good country example (Spain). There are particular subgroups that are of special concern in the literature: Bye 2000 discusses young people who have dropped out or are at risk of dropping out of formal school before the end of compulsory education (taking Australia as the case study, though similar issues are found in most OECD countries), while Jackson and Burke 2007, Jenkins 2006, and Rogers 2006 focus on women’s access.

                                                                                                                    • Bye, Jayne. 2000. Making pathways: Young people and their informal vocational learning. Sydney, Australia: UTS Research Centre for Vocational Education and Training.

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                                                                                                                      Looks at the situation of young people in Australia and shows that the pathway through education and training to the labor market is not a linear one, especially for many at-risk youth. Understanding this complexity would improve policy responses.

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                                                                                                                      • Jackson, Sue, and Penny Jane Burke. 2007. Reconceptualising lifelong learning: Feminist interventions. London: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                        Argues that much of the discussion of lifelong learning does not reflect the needs and experience of women, including how they learn, their learning needs, and the value they place on learning and its accreditation.

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                                                                                                                        • Jenkins, Andrew. 2006. Women, lifelong learning and transitions into employment. Work, Employment and Society 20.2: 309–328.

                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1177/0950017006064116E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                          A case study of unemployed British women, which finds that they are more likely to find their way into the labor market if they can obtain qualifications—that is, if they are able to access lifelong learning.

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                                                                                                                          • Osborne, Michael, Jim Gallacher, and Beth Crossan. 2004. Researching widening access to lifelong learning: Issues and approaches in international research. London: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                            A wide-ranging set of essays on different aspects of improving access to lifelong learning for disadvantaged groups.

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                                                                                                                            • Rogers, Alan. 2006. Lifelong learning and the absence of gender. International Journal of Educational Development 26.2: 189–208.

                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1016/j.ijedudev.2005.07.025E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                              Through an extensive literature review, the author argues that gender issues are rarely explicitly mentioned, and that this arises from the centrality of the idea of competitiveness driving discussions of lifelong learning.

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                                                                                                                              • Salas-Velasco, Manuel. 2007. Graduates on the labor market: Formal and informal post-school training investments. Higher Education: The International Journal of Higher Education and Educational Planning 54.2: 227–245.

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                                                                                                                                Uses a postal survey of graduates of Spanish professional universities to assess access to formal and informal learning in the workplace; in general, the author finds that those with higher levels of education have greater access.

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                                                                                                                                Institutional Change

                                                                                                                                The development of learning societies and systems of lifelong learning implies significant changes for policymaking and institutions. UNESCO 2002 and World Bank 2007 provide overviews for policymakers. Institutions need to teach new skills to a much wider range of learners. They face several significant challenges, because there are new skills and competencies that individuals need to acquire, new understandings about the way individuals need to learn in order to learn these different competencies, and individual learners who will want to acquire these competencies in a much more flexible way than the traditional full-time courses for formal qualifications. Coppieters 2005 and Giles and Hargreaves 2006 set out the issues for schools; Kearns 1999 and Bailey, et al. 2004 for vocational institutions; and Ashton and Sung 2004 and Black and Lynch 2003 for the workplace. Osborne, et al. 2007 provides a review of the issues related to new forms of teaching (pedagogy).

                                                                                                                                • Ashton, David N., and Johnny Sung. 2004. Supporting workplace learning for high performance working. Geneva, Switzerland: International Labour Organization.

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                                                                                                                                  A detailed examination of how the most competitive companies approach the need to continually upgrade the skills of their workers. Usefully discusses companies in both the East and the West.

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                                                                                                                                  • Bailey, Thomas R., Katherine L. Hughes, and David Thornton Moore. 2004. Working knowledge: Work-based learning and education reform. London: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                    With a focus on the United States, the authors argue that schools and postsecondary institutions have neglected the role of work-based learning as part of their curricula, and that this has meant young people generally do not learn a key set of skills they will need when they enter the labor market.

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                                                                                                                                    • Black, Sandra E., and Lisa M. Lynch. 2003. The new economy and the organization of work. In New economy handbook. Edited by Derek C. Jones, 545–563. San Diego, CA: Elsevier.

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                                                                                                                                      Looks in detail at the way that successful companies are reorienting their work practices to respond to the needs of the knowledge economy.

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                                                                                                                                      • Coppieters, Piet. 2005. Turning schools into learning organizations. European Journal of Teacher Education 28.2: 129–139.

                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1080/02619760500093131E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                        The author critiques the School Effectiveness approach, which he argues is too linear a concept. Instead, Coppieters argues that a much more complex and dynamic process is needed to enable schools to respond to the new demands placed upon them.

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                                                                                                                                        • Giles, Corrie, and Andy Hargreaves. 2006. The sustainability of innovative schools as learning organizations and professional learning communities during standardized reform. Educational Administration Quarterly 42.1: 124–156.

                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1177/0013161X05278189E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                          Two key researchers in the school effectiveness tradition argue that policymakers should aim for schools that innovate rather than trying to create standard models of improvement.

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                                                                                                                                          • Kearns, Peter. 1999. Lifelong learning: Implications for VET: Discussion paper. Sydney, Australia: National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER).

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                                                                                                                                            Argues that vocational education and training institutions must be more responsive to the complex and diverse needs of individuals, in order to support their lifelong learning.

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                                                                                                                                            • Osborne, Michael, Muir Houston, and Nuala Toman, eds. 2007. The pedagogy of lifelong learning: Understanding effective teaching and learning in diverse contexts. London: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                              If lifelong learning is partly about learning different skills and competencies, then teachers must teach in a different way, especially if they want to enable learners to acquire the ability to learn and to work in cooperative ways.

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                                                                                                                                              • UNESCO. 2002. Learning throughout life: Challenges for the twenty-first century. Paris: UNESCO.

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                                                                                                                                                This book is a follow-up to the groundbreaking Delors Report (see UNESCO Task Force on Education for the Twenty-First Century 1996, cited under Defining Lifelong Learning). It sets out a broad range of policy issues for countries to address in creating lifelong learning systems.

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                                                                                                                                                • World Bank. 2007. Lifelong learning in the global knowledge economy: Challenges for developing countries. Washington, DC: World Bank.

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                                                                                                                                                  This report lays out the agenda for the World Bank in working with its developing country partners on transposing the concepts of lifelong learning into the education reform agendas in those countries.

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                                                                                                                                                  Journals

                                                                                                                                                  There are a few peer-reviewed journals devoted to lifelong learning, such as the International Journal of Lifelong Learning and Lifelong Learning in Europe (LLinE), that take a broad view of lifelong learning and focus on the relationships between schooling, later learning, active citizenship, and personal fulfillment, as well as the relationship between schooling, employability, and economic development. In addition, there are some journals focused on particular aspects of lifelong learning, such as access for underrepresented groups (see Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning). The International Journal of Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning connects Western and Eastern concepts of lifelong learning. The broad issues of learning in companies—not just individuals but groups of employees; not just formal but all types of learning—are addressed in the Journal of Workplace Learning. Finally, many other journals that have been longer established in the fields of education, vocational training, human resource management, and so on have regularly published articles on lifelong learning. This is especially the case for journals like the Journal of Higher Education.

                                                                                                                                                  • International Journal of Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning.

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                                                                                                                                                    The value of this journal is that it explicitly seeks to link Eastern and Western issues around lifelong learning. It is published both in English and Traditional Chinese. However, it only comes out twice a year. Published by the Centre for Research in Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning (CELL Research Centre) of the School of Professional and Continuing Education, the University of Hong Kong (HKU SPACE).

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                                                                                                                                                    • International Journal of Lifelong Learning.

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                                                                                                                                                      This journal has a broad country coverage.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Journal of Higher Education.

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                                                                                                                                                        Higher education is a key element in any lifelong learning system. This journal takes a broad view of higher education and includes some articles specifically on higher education and lifelong learning. The journal focuses almost exclusively on the United States.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Journal of Workplace Learning.

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                                                                                                                                                          Features a variety of material, ranging from conceptualized papers and theoretical development to practical applications and case examples. Each article is set in the context of assisting the individual to maximize opportunities and performance within the working environment.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Lifelong Learning in Europe (LLinE).

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                                                                                                                                                            Each edition of this journal publishes papers around specific themes connected to lifelong learning, providing useful reflections from different perspectives. It takes lifelong learning to be mainly about adult learning, but it takes a broad view of learning. Concerned almost exclusively with issues in Europe.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning.

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                                                                                                                                                              This journal focus on access to lifelong learning as a means to overcome social exclusion. Published by the Open University, United Kingdom.

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                                                                                                                                                              Bibliographies

                                                                                                                                                              There are now several good online bibliographies that focus on lifelong learning. Livingstone, et al. 2006 features scholarly journals and academic books between 2000 and 2006, while Lifelong Learning—Bibliography, produced by the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP), refers to policy documents produced by countries and international organizations, provides links to all the materials online, and is more up to date. The CEDEFOP site is particularly valuable in providing access to resources beyond European and OECD countries. Unfortunately, neither resource provides commentary or annotations, preferring comprehensiveness.

                                                                                                                                                              Textbooks

                                                                                                                                                              There is now a considerable range of textbooks, or good collections of essays from the leading writers, designed to introduce the reader to a range of topics. These sources provide a good survey of the relevant issues. The Routledge trilogy (Harrison, et al. 2001; Reeve, et al. 2001; Edwards, et al. 2001) provides the best overall balance and range of perspectives. Istance, et al. 2002 is perhaps the collection with the best-known authors. Peter Jarvis is one of the leading researchers, and his collections (Jarvis 2008 and Jarvis 2010) are comprehensive. In addition to the usual range of topics, Field and Leicester 2003 has examples from non-Anglo-Saxon countries, while Morgan-Klein and Osborne 2007 looks at the social and psychological aspects of lifelong learning. Crowther and Sutherland 2007 has the distinction of containing new contributions, rather than just reprints of existing material.

                                                                                                                                                              • Crowther, Jim, and Peter Sutherland, eds. 2007. Lifelong learning: Concepts and contexts. London: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                                                Intended as a university textbook, this work brings together new writing to assess the current state of lifelong learning.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Edwards, Richard, Nod Miller, Nick Small, and Alan Tait. 2001. Supporting lifelong learning. Vol. 3, Making policy work. London: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                                                  This is the third volume in a three-volume series looking at different aspects of lifelong learning in an international and comparative perspective. This volume focuses on the policymaking process, and it usefully considers policy at various levels of governance within and across countries.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Field, John, and Mal Leicester, eds. 2003. Lifelong learning: Education across the lifespan. London: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Covers the usual range of issues, though there are sections also on industrial or corporate universities and contributions from across the world, including China and Africa, in addition to the Anglo-Saxon countries. First published in 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Harrison, Roger, Fiona Reeve, Ann Hanson, and Julie Clarke, eds. 2001. Supporting lifelong learning. Vol. 1, Perspectives on learning. London: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                                                      This is the first volume in a three-volume reader for the Open University. It looks at different aspects of lifelong learning in an international and comparative perspective, and examines different aspects of how we learn and how we need to teach in order that others might learn more effectively.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Istance, David, Hans G. Schuetze, and Tom Schuller. 2002. International perspectives on lifelong learning: From recurrent education to the knowledge society. Berkshire, UK: Open Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                        A large collection of essays by well-known authors.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Jarvis, Peter. 2008. Lifelong learning and the learning society: Complete trilogy set. London: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                                                          Perhaps the most comprehensive review of all aspects of lifelong learning from one of the leading academics.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Jarvis, Peter. 2010. Adult education and lifelong learning: Theory and practice. 4th ed. London: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                                                            A comprehensive edition, with summaries of the main issues in its forty-five chapters. Of particular interest are the parts on nongovernmental and social movements, those on international organizations, and those that take specific geographical perspectives.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Morgan-Klein, Brenda, and Michael Osborne. 2007. The concepts and practices of lifelong learning. London: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                                                              This volume has sections on the economics of lifelong learning, but it also looks at the social and psychological aspects of the topic.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Reeve, Fiona, Marion Cartwright, and Richard Edwards, eds. 2001. Supporting lifelong learning. Vol. 2, Organising learning. London: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                                                                This is the second volume in a three-volume series looking at different aspects of lifelong learning in an international and comparative perspective. This volume examines the different types, providers, and locations of learning.

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