Lifelong Learning in the Context of the European Area of Lifelong Learning
© The Author(s) 2011
Received: 15 December 2010
Accepted: 15 May 2011
Published: 15 July 2011
The importance of lifelong learning is beyond question in any working context and especially so under the circumstances of today’s global recession. Consequently, in the current European Higher Education Area (EHEA), continuing education tendencies and plans acquire a global dimension that overcomes — or should overcome — reductionist approaches. The construction and development of the European Area of Lifelong Learning (EALL) (Commission of the European Communities, 2001a), should be understood as a process that is embedded in a much broader framework. It is a networked action in which the involvement of many active professional stakeholders is required, and in which convergence, recognition and cohesion are the principal qualitative components.
Following an exhaustive review of original and official documents linked to the origin, foundations and construction of the EHEA, the EALL stands out as a challenge within the context of the EHEA as a whole. In the aforementioned review, lifelong learning is conceived on the basis of the free movement of European citizens and the potential to offer better training and work opportunities, both of which relate to the principles of movement and recognition. It is found that full adaptation to the knowledge society demands a number of transparent mechanisms and effective instruments to foster improvements in quality and competitiveness, as well as the convergence and recognition of academic qualifications and university degrees, as a response to the increasingly globalised labour market, to technological advances and to full European social integration.
It is for these reasons that lifelong learning is a priority action for Europe, in line with the principle of continuing improvement and investment in human capital for its own benefit, as defined by the European Commission itself