Learning is a continuous process and dynamic endeavour and a tool for professional advancement and progress. What is the role of life-long learning nowadays?

18. Technical draughtsman. CUF (Manufacturing Union Company). 1947-1997. Teófilo Rego Archive, Casa da Imagem – Manuel Leão Foundation, Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal.


New technologies occupy a central stage in industrial work while women and girls continue to be less engaged with ICTs. What will be the consequences of that for industrial development and reform to accommodate climate needs?

19. Digitizer produced in one of the factories in Gabrovo, ca. 1985. Interactive Museum of Industry, Gabrovo, Bulgaria.

Lifelong learning is the development of the concept adult education put forward by UNESCO in the1940s.
The European Parliament defines lifelong learning as all general education, vocational education and training, non-formal education and informal learning undertaken throughout life, resulting in an improvement in knowledge, skills, and competences within a personal, civic, social and/or employment-related perspective.

The idea behind lifelong learning is the continuous development of the set of knowledge and skills – after undergoing formal education and through the course of life, resulting from a multitude of experiences, and not only educational and training experiences. Accordingly, there is a sense of agency and autonomy attached to lifelong learning and an idea of a continuum – what might be needed now might not be needed, or might need to be adapted, in the future.
This resonates significantly with the industry sector, which from its birth has been ever evolving, demanding workers to constantly adapt, learn and acquire new skills.

In current times, with the so-called 5th and 6th Industrial Revolution, the importance of lifelong learning has been occupying a central stage, as the change brought by new digital technologies and artificial intelligence is constantly reshaping the industry sectors. This will naturally have an impact on workers duties during the different transitions, showing the significance that education and training plans will have in protecting them against the needs and challenges posed by the new overly competitive environment, as well as in engaging them to respond to the changes already occurring.

Gender gaps might be heightened by this landscape, and therefore the EU has been focusing on making clear that lifelong learning is particularly important for women and that it has a crucial role in reducing gender gaps in the labour market and the industry sector.

The importance and advantages of lifelong learning should not be seen only as a consequence of the challenges and needs of the new industrial environment towards which we are heading. In our current context, and with the increase of life expectancy it also shall be considered as an exercise of fruition, recreation motivation, personal fulfilment, and overall social welfare.

Life-long learning can also be referred to as permanent education or recurrent learning.