Life-long learning for increasing labour participation and inclusive work-life in the Baltic States against the background of other EU countries

A seminar about “Life-long learning for increasing labour participation and inclusive work-life in the Baltic States against the background of other EU countries” was organized from 21 to 23 May 2020 in Jurmala / Latvia by LKrA (Latvijas Kristīga Akadēmija) with the support of EZA and of the European Union.

106 representatives of workers’ organizations from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Belgium, Germany and Romania attended the seminar, almost all of them online, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The most important aspect of the seminar was: 1) to raise awareness of the value of Life-Long Learning (LLL) and to inspire more people to discover how learning can positively change their employability especially and amongst other things because of the Covid-19 crisis.

Sociological analysis shows that LLL in the Baltic States should be developed along the challenges of digitization and vocational education expansion in new areas. The context of Covid-19 crisis, digital and economic changes gave more importance to the seminar and therefore much more people attended.

2) New strategy for education which doesn’t separate the object (LLL) from the subject (personality), therefore it was necessary to look at the LLL issue innovatively: in close collaboration between different providers – higher education, researchers, NGOs, vocational strategy educators, work-life organizations, trade unionists, technology suppliers. The seminar had important internationally focused analytical content regarding employability issues, modern forms of employment and increasing motivation and productivity.

3) The seminar participants had an opportunity to attend the on-line field-work in the Latvian Adult Education Association and get acquainted with Non-Formal Education Methodologies in Adult Education.

Today’s strategies of innovations in the labour market in the European context of the Covid-19 crisis is of great importance because in the coming years in the EU everything will depend on solidarity of ideas and solidarity of actions involving wide variety of actors. Trade Unions, expert organizations, political parties will confront each other with discourses concerning solidarity, social justice, efficiency, economic interests of different members, and people will have to have innovative performance of learning for their lives and employability. Seminar contributed to the current assessment and methodologies as well as to strategies for LLL development in work places in the Baltic States in comparison to other EU countries with reference to the Europe 2020 strategy, the European Pillar of Social Rights strategy goals and the White Book of European Future to be reached, and people can enter LLL through innovative concepts.

The following topic fields were discussed:

Digitalization as Possibility for Vocational Excellence and LLL; Common Agreement of Social Partners; Secure Skilled Workers: Promoting Training and Gender Equality; Realistic Dimensions of LLL in the Baltic States; Understanding of LLL and Adult Education in Estonia: Tendencies and Contradictions; The Role of Androgogues in Increasing the Participation of Adults in the Labour Market of Lithuania: LLL aspects. Adult Learning as Important Contribution to Improve Social Cohesion and Promotion of Active Citizenship; Continuous Professional Development of Labour Market. Sustained Productivity and Demands of Modern Europe; Involving Trade-Union Representatives in Information, Consultation and Participation Procedure at the Work Place; Couching as a Method of Supporting Employees; Non-Formal Education and Challenges for its Quality; Strategic Guidelines for LLL and Adult Education.

Seminar results

  1. It was the first EZA seminar on-line hosted by Latvian Christian academy. We approached the Covid-19 situation innovatively.
  2. We also found the media and social networks way to inform the society about the seminar creatively. Creativity was supported by unexpected big number of people who joined in and registered as participants.
  3. Presentations at the seminar were compact and logically interconnected, focused at the new paradigm of LLL.
  4. Participants asked many questions to speakers in the Chat section and orally, and they were answered by experts. It was more effective online than usual work-groups and workshops. Answers were very focused and they were heard by all participants.
  5. All participants could see possible results in Adult education attending digital online filed trip to the Latvian Adult Education Association.
  6. An Agreed Resolution for Professional Associations was accepted. The need for Resolution was caused by the monopoly situation in the field of Government purchases in the Social work and Supervision fields in Latvia. Unfortunately, respective Associations monopolize the purchase by rejecting professionals with higher education Diploma in the field, therefore Associations suffer from non-professional approach by excluding young specialists from employability. Associations do not organize LLL sessions and stay apart as “distant geniuses” which slow down employability. Amongst others, the following issues are demanded in the resolution:

(a) continuing vocational education and training as a part of the company culture; (b) professional development as workplace-based qualification is the principle financed by the companies; (c) learning in the company is working closely and may be closely related to the particular work situation and include previous experience of the best employees, and avoid threshold fears over unfamiliar learning situation; (d) the training in the company is to improve and shape the future of the workers and the councils; (e) collective agreements promote participation, structuring and common responsibility; (f) open access and learning time requirements must be secured for all employee groups; (g) implementation of the Life-Long Learning must be coordinated with Coordinating Office, e.g., research institution and training providers, taking in notice steering committee advices, employers’ organizations and trade unions organizations.

  1. Three key issues were emphasized: 1) each professional branch needs its own LLL system and structure rather than base of LLL on the projects’ money, 2) formal and bureaucratic approach to LLL should be eliminated where it consists of political reports to Brussels, since data about education do not match data on employability. Strategy should encompass young people; requalification should foresee improvement of digital skills. 3) Learning subject as a result of an apriori assumption of a separation of matter from meaning, separation of the object from the subject. Problematic status of subject and object as separate from one from another is a signal that it could be an end of LLL, therefore our rationale is to go for responsible experimentation for LLL development as the way of an acting an educational purpose. That’s why trade unions in EU need innovative educational epistemologies and methods more than “positive reports” to Brussels. We recognize need for epistemological approach for change of LLL which requires holistic approach in each professional branch of employability.