Lifelong Learning (LLL) Strategy in EU
EU has emphasised on the development of the knowledge triangle “education, innovation, research" and the development of skills, over a period of years. LLL is a key element in EU’s strategy and is funded by EU. A series of decisions and resolutions by EU’s institutions and bodies have regarded LLL as a high political priority. The adoption of the work programme "Education and Training 2010" - in the framework of the Lisbon strategy - by the Barcelona European Council in March 2002, constituted, for the first time, a stable framework for European cooperation in education and training. The Education and Training 2010 work programme and the Copenhagen process (for vocational education and training-VET) led, inter alia, to the support of national LLL reforms. The common European strategy "Europe 2020", aiming at smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, characterized LLL and the development of skills as an important policy tool for addressing the ongoing economic crisis, the ageing population and the wider EU financial and social strategy, in the context of globalisation.
Vocational education and training has been identified as a priority area for cooperation in the European Education Area for the period 2021-2030.
LLL in Greece
Background of the LLL concept
The origins of LLL in Greece are traced back to the early decades of the 20th century in legislation to tackle illiteracy and later, on popular education. The institution of popular education aimed at developing the personality of citizens, their active participation in social and political life, as well as the creative use of free time. In 1983, the General Secretariat for Popular Education was established as the competent central body (law 1320/1983). In 2001, it was renamed to General Secretariat for Adult Education (law 2909/2001) and in 2008, to General Secretariat for Lifelong Learning (law 3699/2008). Furthermore, under the influence of the requirements set by the European Economic Community (EEC) and the EU afterwards, there was a significant decrease in these activities and an increase in vocational training programmes. The first clear modern definition of the term LLL was given in law 3369/2005. Lifelong education (popular education, adult education) and lifelong training (initial training, continuing training) were included in LLL. The National Committee for Lifelong Learning was also established.
National policy on LLL
Greece is informed about European trends and incorporates European texts and initiatives at national level, as long as they reflect national priorities. Lifelong learning is a national policy priority, as its strong connection with employment, economic prosperity and full participation of the individual in society is clear. Especially in the context of the current economic crisis, lifelong learning is a crucial factor for growth and social cohesion. In this framework, Greece was called upon to lift the discrepancies in access to adult education, mainly for people aged 55+, for workers, farmers, inhabitants of semi-urban and rural areas and even for persons with low educational background. The shift towards strengthening development policies constituted the only way ahead for Greece to make progress and for this purpose the quality of lifelong learning actions was enhanced, intensified and upgraded.
The upgrading of Vocational Education and Training (VET) is at the heart of the reform initiatives for education in Greece (Law 4763/2020). The reform is based on an integrated strategy for VET and LLL and not on fragmented interventions, based on many years of experience. A new strategy based on quality enhancement, identification of the real needs of beneficiaries, flexibility, extroversion, more opportunities, a focus on modern skills and schemes to coordinate individual policies is needed. In this context, in 2022 the Minister of Education and Religious Affairs submitted the Strategic Plan for Vocational Education, Training, Lifelong Learning and Youth for the three-year period 2022-2024 for discussion in the Committee for Educational Affairs of the Hellenic Parliament. The Strategic Plan adopted by the Central Council for Vocational Education and Training includes three sub-pillars and individual strategies for
- Vocational Education and Training,
- Lifelong Learning focused on Adult Learning and
- Youth, which fall under the same strategic objectives and complement each other in the light of a holistic approach to the mentioned fields.
With the enactment of law 3879/2010 ("Development of Lifelong Learning and other provisions"), a national holistic strategy on LLL was for the first time created in Greece and the National Network for Lifelong Learning was set up, consisting of all LLL governing bodies and LLL service providers. In particular, the following objectives were set forth:
- Systematisation and co-ordination of investigating the educational and training needs of adults in relation to the needs of labour market and social development.
- Planning and decentralization of lifelong learning actions, systematic support of the National Network for Lifelong Learning bodies and cooperation between LLL governing bodies and LLL service providers.
- Promotion of vocational training and general adult education as two equal pillars of lifelong learning.
- Establishment of standards and tools to develop and improve the quality of lifelong learning.
- Assurance of accessibility for individuals and especially for members of socially vulnerable groups in all training and general adult education actions.
- Continuing education and evaluation of adult educators.
- Creation of a coherent national framework for the evaluation and certification for all forms of training and general adult education, by establishing the National Organisation for the Certification of Qualifications and Vocational Guidance (EOPPEP).
- Establishment of a single national framework of qualification recognition and certification of knowledge, skills and competences (Hellenic Qualifications Framework).
LLL applies to all forms of learning activities during a person’s life, aiming at acquiring or developing knowledge, skills and competences, which contribute to the formation of an integrated personality, to professional integration and development of the individual, social cohesion, capacity development for active citizenship and social, economic and cultural development. It includes formal education, non-formal education and informal learning. Basic and supporting functions are exercised as part of this context. LLL basic functions are:
- Initial vocational training
- Continuing vocational training
- General adult education.
Supporting functions are mainly:
- Exploration of the educational and training needs of adults in relation to the needs of labour market and society.
- Provision of lifelong counselling and career guidance services.
- Certification of structures, professional profiles, programmes and non-formal education trainers.
- Recognition of qualifications and certification of knowledge, skills and competences of individuals.
- Recognition of professional rights corresponding to professional qualifications, acquired in LLL framework, excluding higher education.
In addition to law 3879/2010, part of which is still in force, policy priorities are mainly determined by the recent law 4763/2020, which attempts a holistic reform of VET and LLL, focused on 3 main axes:
- common planning of VET and LLL,
- linking VET and LLL to the real needs of the labour market,
- upgrading of VET provision.
The new law attempts to remedy several dysfunctions, such as:
- the overlaps between structures and educational pathways,
- the absence of post lower secondary level structures,
- the existence of obsolete specialisations and training guides,
- the inadequate connection with the real needs of the labour market (including the absence of social partners’ involvement in planning VET),
- the lack of credibility concerning the certification of professional/vocational qualifications,
- the irregularities in organizing the continuing vocational training provided in Lifelong Learning Centres..
Allocation of responsibilities
At the highest level, the responsibility for LLL is distributed between 2 ministries:
- The Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs is responsible for:
- Formal and non-formal adult education
- Lifelong learning
- Youth education and training
- Socio-cultural non-formal education
- The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is responsible for:
- The prevention and tackling of unemployment,
- Addressing the social inclusion of vulnerable groups.
Governance structures of VET and LLL
The recent law 4763/2020 reorganises governance structures to support the new policies.
- The General Secretariat for Vocational Education, Training, Lifelong Learning and Youth
- The Central Council for Vocational Education and Training
- The Central Scientific Committee
- The Production-Labour Market Liaison Councils
General Secretariat for Vocational Education, Training, Lifelong Learning and Youth
The General Secretariat is the mainly responsible thematic secretariat of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs for VET and LLL. Its mission is το plan, coordinate, supervise and evaluate policies, actions and programmes in the fields of VET, LLL and youth, without discrimination or exclusions. Its main objectives are:
- to provide the country’s human resources with up-to-date qualifications, adapted to the real needs of the labour market,
- to increase employment in quality jobs,
- to improve the organization and competitiveness of the Greek economy,
- to reinforce the citizens’ personal development and upskilling,
- to ensure the rights and equal opportunities for all young people, including young people with disabilities and chronic diseases.
The recent law 4763/2020 reorganises the structures of the General Secretariat to support the new policies.
Central Council for Vocational Education and Training
The Council constitutes the key governance structure at central level and its role is to enhance the flexibility and extroversion of VET. Its mission is to make proposals and recommendations to the Minister of Education concerning national policy-making on VET and LLL, particularly in the context of the promotion of knowledge, sustainable development, the development of human resources’ competences and the linking of education with the labour market and employment.
Central Scientific Committee
Its mission is the scientific research, study and documentation on issues related to improving the quality and effectiveness of VET, as well as of LLL programmes.
Production-Labour Market Liaison Councils
Production-Labour Market Liaison Councils operate in the 13 regions of the country, aiming at decentralising VET governance system. They play a regulatory role at regional and local level.
Production-labour market liaison councils
- Detect local VET and LLL needs and submit recommendations to the Central Council for Vocational Education and Training to meet these needs.
- Submit proposals to the Central Council for Vocational Education and Training for the sectors, specialisations, specific courses, programmes and activities that should operate in the vocational training institutes, the post-secondary year-apprenticeship class, the vocational upper secondary schools (EPALs), the vocational training schools (ESKs) and the vocational apprenticeship schools of the Manpower Employment Organisation in their region.
- Submit proposals to the Central Council for Vocational Education and Training for designing educational activities regarding entrepreneurship and innovation.
- Support apprenticeship in their region, following the guidelines set out by the Central Council for Vocational Education and Training.
- Contact, inform and motivate local enterprises towards traineeship and apprenticeship, following the guidelines set out by the Central Council for Vocational Education and Training.
- By the end of July of each year, they prepare an annual report on their activities and planning for the following year. The report is submitted to the Minister of Education and the Chairman of the Central Council for Vocational Education and Training.
State bodies supervised by the Ministry of Education
The National Organisation for the Certification of Qualifications and Vocational Guidance (EOPPEP)
EOPPEP implements the national accreditation system for non-formal adult education, including Initial and Continuing Vocational Training and provides scientific support to vocational guidance & counselling services both at national and local/regional levels.
Youth and Lifelong Learning Foundation
Youth and Lifelong Learning Foundation aims at implementing actions, programmes and projects for LLL and youth, with emphasis on supporting youth innovation and mobility. It also manages issues related to pupil and student welfare. It is the national agency responsible for implementing and monitoring the Erasmus+ program, jointly with IKY, as well as the European Solidarity Corps program.
State bodies supervised by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs
The Manpower Employment Organisation is based on 3 pillars:
- Promotion of employment,
- Unemployment insurance and social protection of maternity and family,
Therefore, Manpower Employment Organisation is the public authority responsible for:
- Active labour market policies to halt unemployment, to promote employment and vocational training (of unemployed and employees).
- Passive policies relating to unemployment insurance measures (basic unemployment benefit) and other social protection benefits and allowances,
- Active policies on initial vocational training combined with on-the job training (apprenticeship system).
LLL service providers
- Structures providing general adult education, such as second chance schools
- Vocational training institutes, state and private,
- Lifelong Learning Centres, state and private,
- Youth and Lifelong Learning Foundation
- Centres for Training and LLL within HEIs
- Hellenic Open University
- Providers of general (formal and non-formal) adult education services, including social, religious and cultural institutions,
- Providers offering counselling and/or career guidance services,
- Employment Promotion Centres, to the extent that they provide lifelong counselling and career guidance services,
- Public and wider public sector bodies providing non-formal education to employees in the public and the wider public sector, such as the National Center for Public Administration
- Bodies set up by professional associations and chambers providing non-formal education to their members,
- Providers of lifelong learning services which comprise the tertiary trade unions of employees and employers co-signing the national collective labour agreement,
- Informal learning bodies,
- The Institute for Pastoral Education of the Holy Archdiocese of Athens to the extent that it provides LLL services exclusively on pastoral training issues,
- The Center for Security Studies.
Lifelong learning is funded by state, EU and private resources. The actions and projects implemented by state bodies are funded primarily by the operational programmes (OPs) of the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) co-financed by Greece and the European Union. A more extensive report on lifelong learning is given in Chapter 8 Adult Education and Training. A more extensive report on LLL funding is given in Chapter 3 Funding in education.