The Future of Learning: Preparing for Change

The Europe 2020 strategy acknowledges that a fundamental transformation of education and training  is needed to address the new skills and competences required if Europe is to remain competitive, overcome  the current economic crisis and grasp new opportunities. The strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (‘ET 2020’) recognizes that education and training have a crucial role to play in meeting the many socio-economic, demographic, environmental and technological challenges facing Europe and its citizens today and in the years ahead. However, to determine how education and training policy can adequately prepare learners for life in the future society, there is a need to envisage what competences will be relevant and how these will be acquired in 2020-2030. To contribute to this vision-building process, JRC-IPTS on behalf of DG Education and Culture launched a foresight study on “The Future of Learning: New Ways to Learn New Skills for Future Jobs”, in 2009. This study continues and extends IPTS work done in 2006-2008 on “Future Learning Spaces” (Punie et al., 2006, Punie & Ala-Mutka, 2007, Miller et al., 2008). It is made up of different vision building exercises, involving different stakeholder groups ranging from policy makers, and scientists to educators and learners. The majority of these stakeholder consultations were implemented on behalf of by a consortium led by TNO of the Netherlands with partners at the Open University of the Netherlands and Atticmedia, UK. The detailed results of these stakeholder discussions have been published in dedicated reports (cf. Ala-Mutka et al., 2010; Stoyanov et al., 2010; Redecker et al., 2010a). This report synthesizes and discusses the insights collected. It identifies key factors for change that emerge at the interface of the visions painted by different stakeholder groups and arranges them into a descriptive vision of the future of learning in 2020-2030. In a second step, the report discusses future solutions to pending challenges for European Education and Training systems and outlines policy options. Based on the descriptive vision presented in the first part, a normative vision is developed of an ideal learning future, in which all citizens are enabled to develop their talents to the best and to foster their own wellbeing and prosperity as well as that of the society they live in as active citizens. Strategies fostering such a vision and the policy implications supporting it are presented and discussed.