Lifelong learning is crucial to preparing workers to compete in the global economy. But it is important for other reasons as well. By improving people's ability to function as members of their communities, education and training increase social cohesion, reduce crime, and improve income distribution.
Developing countries and transition economies risk being further marginalized in a competitive global knowledge economy because their education and training systems are not equipping learners with the skills they need. To respond to the problem, policymakers need to rethink:
Lifelong Learning in the Global Knowledge Economy: Challenges for Developing Countries , The World Bank Group, October 2002.
New Skills and Competences
Performing in the global economy and functioning in a global society requires mastery of technical, interpersonal, and methodological skills. Technical skills include literacy, foreign language, mathematics, science, problem-solving, and analytical skills. Interpersonal skills include teamwork, leadership, and communication skills. Methodological skills include the ability to learn on one's own, to pursue lifelong learning, and to cope with risk and change.
New Pathways to Learning
A lifelong learning system needs to reach larger segments of the population, reaching people with diverse learning needs. It must be competency driven rather than age related. Within traditional institutional settings, new curricula and new teaching methods need to be adopted. At the same time, efforts need to be made to reach learners who cannot enroll in programs at traditional institutions.
The governance of lifelong learning needs to achieve a better integration of learning programs and articulation of the different structures. Learners should be able to come in and go out of the system at different points in time. The learning system needs to bring in a multitude of players, including the individual learner, the family, the employer, the provider, and the state. Governance in the lifelong learning framework is therefore more than just the ministries of education and training.
Providing more and better education and training opportunities over a lifetime will require increased expenditures, although resources will also need to be used more efficiently and in different ways. These expenditures cannot be met solely from public sources; a creative partnership is required involving both the private and public sectors.