Lifelong Learning Platform | LLLP - European Civil Society for Education

Surfing the momentum for lifelong learning opportunities: Individual Learning Accounts and Microcredentials

The need for adequate and equitable lifelong learning opportunities has gathered significant consensus in contemporary society. Aside from being a key policy tool in the effort to equip and re-equip the population with much needed upskilling and re-skilling opportunities, it is also a fundamental component in realising a sustainable future that is premised on the principles of active citizenship, learning for learning’s sake, critical thinking and inciting fruitful civic spaces. Establishing a culture of lifelong learning would deconstruct the idea that learning is to be carried out at a certain point in an individual’s life – sowing the seeds for intergenerational engagement in meaningful settings.

The Lifelong Learning Platform (LLLP) subscribes to the notion that access to quality and inclusive training and lifelong learning is a matter of right – to be accessible to all at any point in time regardless of social background and/or financial means. It is from this position that we greatly welcome the initiatives: Individual learning accounts (ILAs) and Microcredentials (MCs), as proposed by the European Commission. Both can be understood as a step in the right direction in the gallant and pertinent effort to adequately support people in the acquisition of skills and learning at any point across the life course.

The European Commission launched open public consultations to gather inputs on both of the initiatives respectively to which LLLP contributed. Both initiatives pave the way for a more flexible and learner-centred approach. How?

Micro-credentials are a potential tool that can boost lifelong learning policies by bringing more flexibility to the learning pathways and personalised learning thanks to the modular approach and portability of credits. While there is virtually no mention of access for disadvantaged groups, LLLP holds that microcredentials could foster a more inclusive E&T offer and, in particular, could be a relevant form of qualification for learners who cannot access other types of qualifications, such as migrants and refugees. 

Individual Learning Accounts (ILAs), on the other hand, have the potential to close existing labour market skills gap and – crucially, in our eyes – social gaps too. However, the scope of ILAs seems to be based on employment status alone and “working-age individuals”. LLLP, therefore, calls for the recognition of a universal entitlement to lifelong learning to all, especially to younger adults not yet in the labour market. Education is a universal right and a public good, which is why we stress the importance of preventing ILAs from only benefiting those who have an employment-related status.

Organised civil society will seize this momentum to make lifelong learning a reality for all: for education – and therefore lifelong learning – is a universal right that works best when it is implemented for its own sake. 

Useful resources:
LLLP contribution to ILAs Roadmap
LLLP contribution to Microcredentials Roadmap
European Commission’s Open Public Consultation on ILAs
European Commission’s Open Public Consultation on Microcredentials