Project Overview

The decade that we have embarked upon presents enormous challenges for Europe. The 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth recognises the key role higher education must play if the ambitions for Europe in a fast-changing global reality are to be realised [1]. This implies widening access to lifelong learning to as many European citizens as possible and it is vital that measures are implemented to transform our reality towards this direction. Notably, labour markets increasingly require more graduates with specialized knowledge and competences and substantial investment has to be made in education systems to ensure that this demand is met.
According to the fundamental goal of the ET 2020 WP: “Making lifelong learning and mobility a reality”, economic, technological and organizational changes impose new demands for a Europe more responsive to the labor market’s requirements. Therefore ET systems have to be able to support and equip European citizens with knowledge, skills, and competences to fulfill three core objectives:

  • meet the challenges of globally increasing competition;
  • generate new skills to respond to the nature of the new jobs and
  • improve the adaptability and employability of adults already working or entering the labor market.

However, as the 2013 Annual Growth Survey notices, the duration of the crisis has not helped Member States to press ahead with meeting their EU 2020 targets on LLL for skills and employability. These findings constitute a strong motivation for the implementation and awareness-raising of the ET 2020 objectives on development of skills for growth, competitiveness and employability enhancement.
It is accepted that among the key reasons that deter people from participating in Lifelong Learning activities are:

  • the lack of meaningful, well-structured, easily accessible information related to lifelong learning related information, and
  • the lack of policy frameworks and tools for linking competences and qualifications gained across different phases and contexts inside and outside formal education and training, in order to form flexible pathways for personal development and competitiveness in the labor market.

As emphasized in [2], flexible pathways have an important potential for encouraging participation in lifelong learning; thus, an alternative approach is required in order to attract stakeholders, i.e. learning opportunity providers, individuals, policy-makers and technology developers, to engage in the process of building an ecosystem for managing and promoting flexible, alternative Lifelong Learning Opportunity pathways.

Under this perspective, the proposed project aims to the Composition of Lifelong Learning Opportunity Pathways through Standards-based Services investing on the establishment of a cohesive, strategic partnership for the long-term promotion of LLLrelated European strategies and the development of instruments that will raise the awareness of both learning opportunity providers and learning opportunity seekers and stimulate the design of policies for enhancing ET with alternative, flexible pathways on the basis of easy, technology-enhanced access to learning opportunities.
The proposed approach targets all types of LLL stakeholders with a specific emphasis in a higher education context. More specifically, COMPASS will:

  • promote the concept of flexible lifelong learning pathways through the use of guidance instruments and produce policy suggestions for fomenting their implementation by higher education institutions
  • develop standards-based technical tools to engage HEI learning opportunity providers in producing well-structured, competence-based Learning Opportunity descriptions and in supporting the creation of flexible learning paths, thus improving the quality and relevance of higher education to current and emerging labour market needs
  • leverage the consortium’s significant impact and span to policy makers, collaborating HEIs and to ICT-related industry, to design and implement pilot tests, that will boost awareness and institutional commitment
  • make explicit contributions for integration of technical developments into existing European and national guidance instruments for access to learning opportunities (e.g. Ploteus).

The ICT sector has been selected as our pilot application field since, according to [2], there is a persistent mismatch between supply and demand of ICT skills, while there will be up to 700,000 unfilled ICT practitioners’ vacancies in the EU by 2015. Furthermore, ICT is one of the most rapidly evolving fields; knowledge provided a couple of years ago, today may render useless under the light of the needs of the current market.

[1] Eurydice, “Modernisation of Higher Education in Europe: Funding and the Social Dimension”, 2011.
[2] Commission Staff Working Document, “Partnership and flexible pathways for lifelong skills development”, 2012