Round table: Theory, policy and practice in lifelong learning

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Linkage and tension between lifelong learning and HRD in Europe
Contrasting thematic areas of the LLL Base and the EHRD Base
Sabine Manning

Presentation at the round table of the HRD Conference in Toulouse, 24 May 2003 (see proceedings)
Figures   > 1  > 2  > 3  >  4  >  5  >  6

In collaboration with European researchers I have developed two knowledge bases: one about lifelong learning in Europe (LLL Base) and another one about human resource development in Europe (EHRD Base). Each of these two knowledge bases emerged in a specific context: 

  • The LLL Base, designed in cooperation with CEDEFOP, started out from issues related to the EU Memorandum on lifelong learning (2001). Its aim was to highlight results of research and policy analysis, with a focus on challenges for vocational education and training. 
  • The EHRD Base was created in collaboration with a cluster of research projects supported under the Fourth and Fifth Framework programmes of the EU. Its aim was to bring together research results, and stimulate interaction among researchers, in areas related to HRD in Europe.
These two knowledge bases have been produced and maintained completely separate from each other. What they have in common, though, is a thematic approach: each knowledge base is built on a conceptual field with interrelated themes of research. The two knowledge bases may therefore provide interesting perspectives on linkages and tensions between the thematic fields of lifelong learning and human resource development in Europe.

The following figures have been prepared to highlight the thematic relationship between these two knowledge bases (the explanatory text below is also attached to each page showing the figure concerned).

Context and process of lifelong learning in Europe (Figure 1)

Lifelong learning, as perceived in the LLL Base, is centred on the individual life cycle, in liaison with the processes of learning and working. The related context is defined by the triangle of community, education and profession.

Context and field of human resource development in Europe (Figure 2)

Human resource development in the EHRD Base is described as a broad field of activities, involving professionals, managers and workers. The focus of interest in these HRD activities is the organisation.

Individual <-> Organisation (Figure 3)

Two different focal points have been identified in the conceptual fields of LLL and HRD: the individual and the organisation. While these may imply contrasting concepts, there are also close linkages between these two. The interrelation or shift of emphasis between the individual and the organisation, between LLL and HRD, have been addressed as challenges. Two quotations by Petr Jarvis and Barry Nyhan, selected from the knowledge bases (Jarvis 2002 and Nyhan et al. 2003), may illustrate this tension. 

Areas of LLL in Europe (Figure 4)

Issues of lifelong learning have grouped according to five thematic areas: developing competences/ skills and learning environments, offering information/ guidance and facilitating bridges/ pathways in the education system, and providing frameworks/ incentives for lifelong learning.

Areas of HRD in Europe (Figure 5)

European HRD, as a broad concept, includes the following thematic areas: human resource development/ management (HRD) in particular, linked with DO), continuing vocational training (CVT), knowledge management (KM), work-based learning (WBL) and learning in organisations/ organisational learning (LO). 

Relationship between areas of LLL and HRD (Figure 6)

The two sets of thematic areas identified for LLL and HRD respectively seem to be fairly distinct and different in terminology. However, if the processes (e.g. managing, guiding, learning) which underpin these terms are considered, the areas can be related to each other. For this purpose, the two sets of thematic areas have been arranged as a continuum between two complementing processes: 'facilitation' and 'learning'. 
    By contrasting the thematic areas of LLL and HRD in this way, and considering the rich evidence of the knowledge bases behind these themes, the following pattern emerges: while there is a week relationship between thematic areas concerned with the facilitation of LLL and HRD respectively, the relationship between areas focusing on the learning process turns out to be strong. 

This outcome is significant in underlining a message expressed in several contributions to this conference: both in the context of LLL and HRD, the learning process is addressed as a central concern of research and practice.

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Author: Sabine Manning  © WIFO