Research Article Open Access

Scientific Legitimation of the European Union’s Competence Development Policy

Rosario Sergio Maniscalco


This study provides an accessible account of the policy making process of the European Union in the arena of adult skills and competence development. In particular, the way skill standards for adult learners is designed in the EU official statements is investigated, analyzing the developments in the European Union’s adult education policies since the Lisbon process was launched in order to verify to what extent they are evidence-based and legitimated through scientific research and specific ex-ante studies. In fact, because of the ageing work force in Europe, but also in the light of the recent economic downturns and the increased labor market’s flexibility and dynamics, many governments have tried to foster the involvement and participation of adults in lifelong learning paths for them to suit the transformations of the knowledge-based societies and be active and competitive even in older ages. This empirical paper is based on literature review and content analysis of the relevant policy documents and official EU statements. The main findings show how, beyond declared purposes and political slogans, the way the EU is shaping the adult learners’ upskilling significantly appears to aim at the substantial bolstering of basic and digital skills in order to cope with the knowledge economy rather than giving emphasis to more comprehensive sets of competences for lifelong learning and active ageing, which are going to be needed more than ever in the years to come.

Journal of Social Sciences
Volume 8 No. 2, 2012, 149-162


Submitted On: 18 January 2012 Published On: 18 February 2012

How to Cite: Maniscalco, R. S. (2012). Scientific Legitimation of the European Union’s Competence Development Policy. Journal of Social Sciences, 8(2), 149-162.

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  • European educational policies
  • Adult Education (AE)
  • competence development
  • Action Plan for Adult Learning (APAL)