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    International Winter School: Comparative Studies in Adult Education and Lifelong Learning

    Comparative Group 9: Adult learning and job-related continuing education and training

    lifelong learning; job-related learning; continuing education and training

    Within globalization, national and regional economic systems and labour markets have been showing profound changes owing to unemployment, transformations in the organization of work and workers’ qualifications, competences and skills. To deal with these changes an increased emphasis has been put in adult education and lifelong learning. Continuing education and training is considered a main tool of lifelong learning.  By continuing education and training we mean all kind of education or training after initial education and training – or after entry into working life - aimed at helping individuals to: improve or update their knowledge and/or skills; acquire new skills for a career move or retraining; increase earnings; continue their personal or professional development (Cedefop, 2004; OCDE, 2007). For the purposes of this comparative group we will focus on job-related continuing education and training, i.e., provisions oriented towards professional skills development.

    From a policy-maker viewpoint, continuing education and training is not only a mean of increasing productivity, economic growth, employability, innovation and competitiveness, but also of improving equity, social cohesion and participation of disadvantaged groups in the labour market and society. For firms, continuing education and training is considered important in terms of updating and renewing the knowledge, skills and competences of their workers, responding to increasing global competition and adapting to fast-changing technological and socioeconomic development. For individuals, continuing education and training is supposed to contribute to employability, employment status and professional and social development.

    However, continuing education and training presents different kinds of arrangements across countries and regions according to different welfare regimes and relationship among State, market and civil society.

    In this comparative group we expect students:

    1. to identify similarities and differences in continuing education and training policy discourses;
    2. to compare the role played by state, market and civil society in continuing education and training forms of provision;
    3. to identify and compare the most relevant CVET target groups and their definition.

    Comparative research question

    How can national/regional continuing education and training policies  be characterised according to the types of discoursive arguments, forms of provision, providers and target groups?

    Context of comparison

    The context of comparison privileged in this group work will be the national/regional level, namely CVET policy discourses (laws, regulations, financed programmes); CVET providers (State, market and civil society) and target groups (employed, unemployed, women, migrants, older workers, low skilled workers,…).

    Categories of comparison (selection for the transnational essay is based on participants research interests)

    1. Continuing education and training national/regional policy discourses – discourses in general and policy discourses in particular not only describe social reality but they actively contribute to it production, namely by the problems they address, the solutions they propose and the type of arguments they mobilize to justify policy action (laws, regulations, programs, initiatives, forms of provision).
    2. Continuing education and training providers – According to countries/regions, state (national, federal, regional, municipal), market (firms/enterprises, employers’ associations) and civil society (NGO, trade unions) play different roles and are responsible for different continuing education and training forms of provision.
    3. Continuing education and training target groups - policy discourses and forms of provision construct different target groups defined by specific attributes (individual, educational, social, economic, ethnic).


    Bohlinger, Sandra (2015). Governing Vocational Education and Training in Europe. In Sandra Bohlinger, Ulrika Haake, Christian Helms Jørgensen,Hanna Toiviainen and Andreas Wallo (Eds), Working and Learning in Times of Uncertainty Challenges to Adult, Professional and Vocational Education (pp.209-222). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

    Nilsson, Staffan and Nyström, Sofia (2013). Adult learning, education, and the labour market in the employability regime. European journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults, 4 (2), pp. 171-187.

    Cedefop (2015). Job-related adult learning and continuing vocational training in Europe: a statistical picture. Luxembourg: Publication Office. Cedefop Research paper, Nº48.

    Prof. Natalia Alves, Institute of Education, Universidade de Lisboa, PORTUGAL

    Natália Alves is an assistant professor at Instituto de Educação, Universidade de Lisboa. She holds a PhD on Sociology of Education. Her main fields of research are school to work transitions and IVET and CVET policies, forms of provision and practices.

    Prof. Borut Mikulec, Univerza v Ljubljana, SLOVENIA

    Borut Mikulec is assistant professor of adult and continuing education at the Department of Educational Sciences at the University of Ljubljana since 2016. He is one of the chief editors of the Andragogic Perspectives journal. His research areas include themes concerning adult education, i.e. education policy, comparative adult education, vocational education and training, recognition of non-formal and informal learning, lifelong learning. Previously he worked as senior advisor at the Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for Vocational Education and Training for more than 8 years.

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