It has long been suggested that in order to meet the requirements of the knowledge economy, university provision for adult learners is crucial. In its resolution of 2011 on modernising universities for Europe’s competitiveness in a global economy, the European Council claimed:
to improve the identification of training needs, increase the labour market relevance of education and training, facilitate individuals’ access to lifelong learning opportunities and guidance, and ensure smooth transitions between the worlds of education, training and employment.” (EU 2011a)
One of the key elements of this modernising strategy is to encourage higher education (HE) institutions to be more accessible to non-traditional learners including adult students; and, to develop further their role in lifelong learning, increasing, where appropriate, the diversity of the tertiary education system.
This is confirmed in the strategy framed in the new master plan Europe 2020. In the strategy paper “Supporting growth and jobs – an agenda for the modernisation of Europe's higher education systems” (EU 2011b) one of the key policy issues is to encourage a greater variety of study modes (e.g. part-time, distance and modular learning, continuing education for adult returners and others already in the labour market) to increase flexibility and therefore widen access.
The LETAE project examines selected cases of apparent good practice in the participating countries of Germany, Scotland, Finland, Turkey, Spain, and Czech Republic; analysing potential and examining barriers to their successful articulation with the labour market, establish a dialogue between institutional and external stakeholders about ways to increase the labour market efficiency of the programmes and provide tools that attempt to measure this.