Torino Process and the Power of Lifelong Learning

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Today, advanced countries inhabit a post-industrial world in which people frequently change jobs, have greater social and geographical mobility, have access to unprecedented technological power in their pockets, and are simultaneously producers and consumers of a global news and information cycle measured in minutes.

Lifelong learning is a vital response to the impact of automation, migration, and globalisation on social cohesion and the labour market. Yet, as a recent European Commission/Eurydice* report points out, ‘adults with low level or no qualifications, those in low-skilled occupations, the unemployed and economically inactive, older people and the least skilled, are less likely to participate in lifelong learning. In other words, the adults most in need…are those with the least access to lifelong learning opportunities.’ Current lifelong learning systems are therefore at risk of widening the skills gaps in our societies rather than narrowing them.

To resolve this, we must liberate the potential of lifelong learning as a catalyst for social inclusion, well-being, employability, and enterprise. The necessary knowledge, skills and competences are key components of ‘human capital’, and at the European Training Foundation (ETF), an agency of the EU headquartered in Turin, Italy, we’ve been working for more than 20 years on better policies for human capital development.

Formed to help revamp education and training systems in Central and Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin wall, our core task is to support human capital development in countries neighbouring the EU. We currently run seven strategic projects across a range of themes, and lifelong learning is the thread that connects them all.

Lifelong learning needs to be funded, delivered, governed, and monitored appropriately. That requires the active engagement of stakeholders, including learners and their communities, teachers and trainers, employers and entrepreneurs, and policy makers. Stakeholders benefit from policies that are focused on local needs, and created via transparent and accountable methods. And, while recognising the specific context in each partner country, we believe they benefit from sharing with each other their experience of developing lifelong learning solutions.

Through the Torino Process, a participatory analytical methodology developed to help partner countries assess and track progress in human capital reforms, we have provided a flexible means of monitoring policy development by gathering and analysing relevant data. This contributes to better decision making in lifelong learning policy, and greater transparency throughout the system.

This year’s Torino Process Conference brought together ministers, policymakers, experts, and practitioners from around the world, to share the latest results of monitoring activities, and discuss innovations in lifelong learning and human capital development.

The conference theme, Changing Skills for a Changing World, is an invitation to invest the support and resources globally that are required to make learning truly universal and lifelong.’

This article was published in the Parliament Magazine, Issue 457 p 19

*Adult Education and Training in Europe: Widening Access to Learning Opportunities. European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice (2015).

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