European Agenda for Adult Learning

European Commission's Renewed European Agenda for Adult Learning defines the focus for European cooperation in adult education policies for 2012–2020.

The European Agenda for Adult Learning was formally adopted by the Council in November 2011. The new Agenda builds upon work initiated under the Action Plan on adult learning (2008–2010), which led to the conclusion that more needs to be done in order to improve the status of adult learning in Europe. It builds on the Strategic Framework for European Cooperation in Education and Training (ET2020) from an adult learning perspective. The Agenda should be seen in the context of the Europe 2020 strategy.

Predictions 2020

The Agenda predicts that, by 2020, adult learning systems will be faced with a strong demand for access to high-quality lifelong learning opportunities and an enhanced role for local authorities, employers, social partners, civil society and cultural organisations, all of which should cooperate in the development and implementation of coherent adult learning policy.


Among the issues targeted for action in the Agenda are improved quality assurance, viable funding, accessible information and guidance, validation of non-formal and informal learning and a focus on well-developed learning provision for seniors to support their active ageing and enable them to contribute to society for longer.

Benchmark 2020

The European Union target for average participation in lifelong learning across the EU is 15% by 2020, for adults aged 25–64. The average participation in 2010 was 9.1%.

Focus 2012–2015

The Council Resolution encourages the European countries to take concrete steps to enhance, intensify and coordinate policies to provide adult learning, in particular offering low qualified adults a «second chance» to go «one step up», i.e. to increase the possibilities for adults to achieve a qualification at least one level higher than their present qualification level European Qualification Framework, EQF. While it is clear that lifelong learning is for all, the essential focus set by the European Agenda for Adult Learning for the next three years is on developing the basic skills of lower qualified adults.

The Ministry of Education and Research will be presenting a White Paper on Lifelong Learning and Exclusion during the first half of 2016.

In the context of national policy development in the area of basic skills training for adults, Skills Norway has run a project entitled "Policy Input from Promising Practice" supported by the European Commission. The project has searched for good practice and experience across Europe. Areas of research have been

  • provision through online learning platforms
  • campaigning to raise awareness and recruit low skilled learners
  • teacher training and CPD systems

The outcome will be made available for policy makers and adult learning stakeholders as appropriate.

More information

European Commission’s website for the Agenda

Council Resolution on a renewed European Agenda for Adult Learning