The world population is ageing causing changes in the society as whole. Ageing is a global phenomenon. Senior citizens represent an important and ever growing part of our European population, economy and society. Irrespective of the current economic crisis, this poses manifold questions as to how member states can best ensure that these citizens are socially included, actively engaged and can fully enjoy all their rights.
Although many senior citizens enjoy good health, ageing often brings difficulties preventing older citizens from accessing goods and services and living independently. Ensuring accessibility for all is both a question of fundamental rights and crucial to making the most of the potential that senior citizens have in social and economic terms.
The Europe 2020 Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth acknowledges LLL and skills development as key elements in response to the current economic crisis, to demographic ageing and to the broader economic and social strategy of the EU. The economic crisis has highlighted the major role which adult learning can play in achieving the Europe 2020 targets, by enabling adults to improve their ability to adapt to changes in the labor market, the family and the society. Adult learning provides a means of up skilling or re-skilling those affected by unemployment and age, as well as makes an important contribution to social inclusion, active citizenship and personal development.
Yet, there is a growing consensus that adult learning is currently the weakest link in developing national lifelong-learning systems. Participation in adult learning has continued to fall, from 9,8 % of the 25-64 year-old population in 2005 to only 10,7 % in 2014, thus making the increased ‘ET2020’ target of 15 % by 2020 an even greater challenge.
Recent evidence of the 2015 Eurydice Report for Adult Education and Training and of the PIAAC results of PIAAC created even bigger challenges for MS in dealing with adults’ basic skills levels and deficits which unavoidable influence the economy and social cohesion: 1)Around one in five adults have low literacy and numeracy skills, and nearly one in three have very low or no ICT skills; 2)Adults with the greatest education and training needs have the least opportunity to benefit from lifelong learning. 3) While countries’ policy agendas commonly place emphasis on access to lifelong learning for adults lacking basic skills or sufficient qualifications, they rarely specify definite targets to be reached.