The CEDEFOP (European centre for the development of vocational training) organised an information session on their new study “Economic and social consequences of low skilled adults in the EU” in Brussels on the 2nd of October.
The study focuses on skills and employability but it still provides interesting recommendations for the whole adult education sector. Envisaging different scenario on the state of the EU in 10 years, the study conclusions are unanimous: no matter what the situation in 10 years will be, there is a strong and urgent need to invest in low-skilled adults and to upskill them.
The low-skilled trap
According to the study, low-skilled people have been strongly affected by the crisis.
“Between 2008 and 2014 in the EU-28 the unemployment rate of adults with low levels of education increased by 7.6% reaching 17.4% in 2014 compared to an increase of 2.2% for the highly educated,” says the study.
It underlines that due to ICT innovations, across all industries, the complexity of jobs is increasing and jobs are becoming more knowledge-intensive. This means that low-skilled adults have lower probabilities of being employed.
“Many low-skilled jobs now require higher information processing skills and more demanding non-routine tasks”, underline the researchers.
The demand for low-skilled workers will decrease by 2025: according to the study, employment level of low-skilled workers will fall by 22%, compared with an increase in employment across all skill levels of 3%. Low educated adults are more likely to get trapped in low-skilled occupations. Adult education is one of the most effective ways to break that vicious circle.
Wider benefits of lifelong learning
EAEA underlines that adult learning and continuous vocational training opportunities need to be increased in the EU in order to maintain and develop its human capital. This concerns skills directly linked to jobs, as in vocational training, but also transversal skills in a wider sense, that are very much needed not only for jobs but also to live together in society.
Incentives and outreach measures need to be put in place to increase participation of low-skilled people in lifelong learning, since, as the study emphasises, they are one of the most difficult target group to engage in lifelong learning.
The study also highlights that a more educated and skilled society will be healthier, safer, more inclusive and also wealthier. Starting from a different problematic and analyzing another sector of adult education, the CEDEFOP study comes to the same conclusions as the BeLL research focused on leisure courses, to which EAEA participated: adult education has numerous wider benefits. It is urgent to offer more adult learning opportunities for low-skilled to look at the present and at the future of the European Union.
Text: Tania Berman