EAEA: The Life Skills for Europe final conference calls for more cross-sector cooperation
On Tuesday the 16th of October more than 30 participants gathered in Brussels for the conference “Transforming lives, society and adult education through life skills”. Participants had the chance to discuss the results of the Erasmus+ project “Life Skills for Europe (LSE)” and to exchange inspiring topic-related initiatives at the policy and practice levels.
The LSE project aims at improving basic skills provision in Europe by explaining, further developing and upscaling the life skills approach. “Life skills emerge as a response to the needs of the individual in real life situations” pointed out in her opening remarks Gina Ebner, secretary general of the European Association for the Education of adults, “we need to look at what people need and build learning around that”.
The LSE rationale and benefits
In its key note speech, Stephen Evans, Chief executive of the Learning and Work institute, explained why the life skills approach is important to empower people to face the changes taking place currently in economy, services and society. Many people across the UK and EU lack basic literacy, numeracy and digital skills and the need for a broader set of capabilities is more than evident. However, considering the decrease of the attendance of basic skills courses, a new approach should be adopted. “We should make learning great, engaging and useful” stated Stephen Evans while explaining a successful initiative implemented by the Learning and Work Institute “the Citizens’ Curriculum is an innovative, holistic approach to ensure everyone has the English, maths, digital, civic, health and financial capabilities they need”.
The Citizens’ curriculum was at the heart of the LSE project’s work but the LSE consortium added two capabilities to the ones proposed by the Learning and Work Institute: the personal and interpersonal capabilities and the environmental ones. Nevertheless, they adopted the principle that those can’t be considered in isolation but as related to one another. “Satisfying, healing and reassuring”, “autonomous, creative and refreshing”, those are the words learners used to describe the Citizens’ Curriculum in the video produced by Learning & Work institute and showed at the conference. The impact of the Life Skills approach on learners lives, demonstrated clearly through their words, leaves no space for doubts regarding the benefits of such an approach.
Inspiring products and engaging discussions
As the project is now approaching the end of its two-year lifespan, a number of inspiring outputs are already available: an insightful report on the life skills approach in Europe, a database of good practice and tools used across the continent, a learning framework and an awareness raising toolkit with a set of recommendations. Those were presented at the conference in a form of a gallery walk.
Thanks to three group discussion, participants had also the chance to learn from some of the good practices and tools selected for the LSE database, get acquainted with the last policies developments at the European level.
Cross-sector cooperation is key
A panel discussion, which was formed by Bettina Thöne-Geyer, Research Associate at the German Institute for Adult Education, Christina Moreno, Founder & CEO at She matters, Pavel Trantina, Group III Vice-President in the European Economic and Social Committee and Andrew Todd, Policy and Advocacy Officer, Lifelong Learning Platform, followed. They expressed their reflections on the LSE approach and provided some suggestions on how to convince different stakeholders to adopt it throughout Europe.
“It’s refreshing to see the holistic approach of skills which is not only linked to labour market” said Andrew Todd while commenting the framework.
Bettina Thöne-Geyer praised the importance that the LSE approach gives to personal growth of the learner. “There is no point in training specific skills without considering the whole person’s development” she said.
In regard to the future of the learning framework, Pavel Trantina commented “The dream is that this framework and its principles are adopted in formal education. Current curricula do not prepare people for real life”.
It was commonly agreed cross-sector cooperation is key for the Life Skills approach to be adopted in Europe. This is true for the labour market, as Christina Moreno underlined, for research, as Bettina Thöne-Geyer wished, in different sectors of education, as Andrew Todd suggested and between practitioners and policy-makers, as Pavel Trantina concluded.
“Life Skills is an important approach that puts the learners and their needs at the centre, makes learning relevant for them and has immediate benefits for the people and their communities. We now need to create an understanding for this approach at all levels and secure support (including funding) for it.” Gina Ebner said while closing the conference