The concept of "lifelong learning" was defined in the Decree of 17 November 2008 on the promotion of adult learning institutions: all learning throughout life that serves to improve knowledge, qualifications and competences and takes place within a personal, civic, social or employment-related perspective".
Lifelong learning concerns the entire education sector of the German-speaking Community, i.e. both formal and non-formal education and training.
The European Commission has adopted a Communication entitled "Making a European Area of Lifelong Learning a Reality", the building blocks of which have been incorporated into the concept of the German-speaking Community:
- Development of a partnership approach: All relevant actors within and outside formal education systems should cooperate to ensure that strategies are effective on the ground;
- To identify the needs of learners or potential learners and the learning needs of organisations and groups as well as society and the labour market;
- Ensure adequate funding (funding and effective and transparent allocation of resources);
- Adapting learning provision to the needs and interests of learners;
- Improving access to learning by developing educational provision so that everyone has the opportunity to learn anywhere, anytime;
- Assessment of non-formal and informal learning;
- Developing a learning culture by developing educational provision, increasing participation and stimulating demand for learning;
- Introduction of quality assurance, assessment and monitoring tools to continuously improve quality and strive for maximum quality.
In January 2009, a further training commission was established. In cooperation with the educational actors, it aims to coordinate the local continuing education offer and to sustainably expand and secure lifelong learning in the German-speaking community.
In January 2014, the Youth Office was set up as the National Agency for the entire "Erasmus +" 2014-2020 programme. Among other things, the National Agency is responsible for the area of lifelong learning with various sub-programmes. It administers the decentralised measures, provides information and advice on the funding opportunities for all actions. It accompanies projects in their implementation and offers support in the dissemination of their results.