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ENLIVEN Report Summary

Project ID: 693989
Funded under: H2020-EU.3.6.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ENLIVEN (Encouraging Lifelong Learning for an Inclusive and Vibrant Europe)

Reporting period: 2016-10-01 to 2017-09-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Has something gone awry with European lifelong learning? It has been a central EU policy priority since 1993. The European Union’s mechanisms for multinational policy co-ordination and measurement are world-leading. Yet many young people are still not in employment, education or training. 73m adults have low levels of education and literacy. Europe’s educational markets are clearly failing to ensure that citizens – particularly younger citizens – have the education and training they need. The resulting social exclusion, political disaffection, and long-term “scarring” from unemployment threatens economic competitiveness, social cohesion, and the European project as a whole.

Should we rethink adult educational policy-formation in Europe? Currently the main beneficiaries of adult education (in Europe as elsewhere) are the more privileged: those who have received better initial education, those in employment, and (among them) those in better-paid, more secure and highly-skilled jobs. Those who need it most – young, unemployed, low skilled, disabled and vulnerable workers – get less. The desire to restrain public spending and harness the efficiencies of market-based allocation systems limits the policy tools available to governments. Public policy focuses on encouraging private investment: adults’ education – unlike children’s – is largely financed by learners, families, and/or employers.

ENLIVEN (Encouraging Lifelong Learning for an Inclusive & Vibrant Europe) is a 3-year research project (2016-2019) funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme. It focuses on adult learning, especially for younger adults not in higher education. To help those who shape adults’ education and training, we focus on four main areas:
Programmes, governance and policies in EU adult learning. By examining the role of public and private markets in reversing or reproducing inequalities, we aim to provide a more holistic understanding of adult education policies, their rationales, how they work, and what they do to enhance growth and inclusion. We explore how forms of social inequality are framed in adult education discourses across Europe. Combining policy diffusion studies with studies of multilevel governance, we identify the main barriers and enablers for adult access to and participation in learning at programme and subnational levels. (Work Packages 1-3.)
Variation in adult learning participation rates. Using large-scale datasets, multilevel regression analysis, and a “pseudo-panel”, we analyse “system characteristics” to explain country- and region-level variation in participation rates, especially among disadvantaged young people – so policy can be more effective in promoting participation. (WP 4.)
Young adults’ learning at and for work. The availability and quality of work for young adults varies. Through organisational case studies of institutions that govern young adults’ early careers, workplace learning and participation in innovation activities, we compare institutional frameworks and attempts to change them. (WPs 5-7).
An Intelligent Decision Support System (IDSS). To provide a new scientific underpinning for policy debate, learning and decision-making, especially for young adults, we model how adult education policy interventions can be more effective, and develop an IDSS. Drawing on a wide range of research, this will help policy-makers enhance provision and take-up of learning opportunities for adults. (WPs 8-9.)

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Progress to date:
To map and assess key elements of EU, national and regional level programmes, we have reviewed 60 key EU policy documents, identified conceptualisations of lifelong learning, social exclusion and vulnerability, created frameworks for analysing national policies and for cross-country analysis, conducted a country-based analysis of education programmes, reviewed academic and policy literature on provision; developed a typology of provision, linked to welfare typologies, submitted a report on national institutional architecture and qualifications frameworks (D2.1), developed an inventory of adult learning policy actors (EU & 8 member states), developed a framework for empirical analysis of governance, examined how EU governance mechanisms shape actors’ collaboration and approaches, and submitted a report (inventory) on policy actors in adult education in Europe and selected countries (D3.1).

To assess the impact of “system characteristics” (initial and adult education, labour market, economy, social protection) on adult education participation rates we have scanned potential data sources to retrieve indicators, agreed definitions of lifelong learning and key system determinants (economy, labour market, education, culture and values, demographic characteristics), and sourced information on Active Labour Market Policy expenditure.

To assess the role of lifelong learning in developing the economy we have developed a framework for comparative research, comparing 3 sectors in 9 countries, prepared and agreed research methods/guidelines, conducted preliminary research and scoped case study organisations, secured agreements to participate for 13 of 17 planned case studies, collected information on new youth-led social movement organisations working to improve employment conditions, and reviewed literature and reported (D7.1) on initiatives to improve early career conditions in EU member states.

To develop an IDSS we have transferred 27 cases (ages: 16-29) from 9 EU countries/regions into a database, collected two sets of cases (48 from 8 EU countries/regions; 7 from 9 EU countries/regions) from the STYLE database, extracted an initial list of case attributes, using categories from WP2 and 3, developed a conceptual framework for NEET data, examined end-user needs, collected examples of evaluated interventions from cognate projects, and created a stakeholder group.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Key areas of progress beyond the state of the art during Year 1 lie in:
creating a typology of adult learning provision, linked to welfare typologies (D2.1);
generating an inventory of adult education policy actors and their roles in the EU and selected countries;
identifying challenges in interdisciplinary work between artificial intelligence and social science in constructing an IDSS;
creating a framework for the IDSS case-base.

Our ambitions include:
Developing an original, systematic and interdisciplinary analytical framework drawing on two approaches to interdisciplinarity: behavioural, with a focus on modelling the activities of human actors, and social-structural, with a focus on contexts and institutional patterns. By drawing on both, we mobilise expertise, methodologies and data across both paradigms.
Analysing the “system characteristics” (of initial and adult education, labour market, economy, and social protection) that shape participation rates and the distribution of participation among different groups of young adults, combining different disciplinary approaches, innovative methods for data collection, and rich sets of existing data.
Identifying weaknesses in policy and policy processes that have limited the EU’s achievements in adult learning. Approaches adopted since the mid-1990s – dominated since 2000 by the Lisbon and Europe 2020 Strategies – have proved inadequate. ENLIVEN will design a framework for policy development which learns from an empirically-informed critical assessment of these strategic frameworks.

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