Initiative on individual learning accounts
In “Promoting our European Way of Life”
In its 2021 Work Programme, the European Commission announced a planned new legislative and non-legislative initiative, as well as an impact assessment on 'Individual learning accounts'.
The topic is also one of the 12 flagship actions of the European Skills Agenda, under the title 'Individual learning accounts', with the following goal: "Help close existing gaps in the access to training for working age adults and empower them to successfully manage labour market transitions". Individual learning accounts should give people of working age a budget to spend on training to improve their skills and employability. The topic is also related to the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan, presented in March 2021, which sets the target of 60% of adults participating in training every year by 2030. A public consultation on individual learning accounts took place from 23 April to 16 July 2021.
On 10 December 2021, the European Commission published its proposal for a Council recommendation on individual learning accounts. The proposal covers all adults in working age, independently of their labour force or professional status. It takes a new approach to lifelong learning, by de-coupling training entitlements from their original funder and giving individuals full ownership over the entitlements.
The proposal recommends that Member States should enable adults to participate in training in order to increase participation rates and reduce skills gaps by:
- supporting all working-age adults to access training, including for professional transitions and irrespective of their labour force or professional status. All working-age adults could accumulate and preserve their rights to training over time;
- increasing individuals’ incentives and motivation to seek training. To achieve these objectives, it invites Member States to set up individual learning accounts. These will embody the right to lifelong learning, through individual learning accounts as a means of enabling individuals to participate in labour market relevant training, and an enabling framework including guidance and validation opportunities, to support the actual take-up of training. These accounts would also be coupled with career guidance, accreditation, and paid educational leave. A digital catalogue listing the training courses that could be financed in this framework would also be set up;
- Member States could decide on the characteristics and financing of the training accounts.
The initiative complements several other instruments mentioned in the European Pillar of Social Rights action plan of 26 March 2021, such as the Council Recommendation on micro-credentials (proposal published on 10 December 2021), the Pact for Skills (launched in November 2020) or the Commission Recommendation on effective active support to employment (EASE) (adopted in March 2021).
The recommendation was adopted by the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council at its meeting of 16 June 2022.
- European Parliament resolution on establishing the European Education Area by 2025 – micro-credentials, individual learning accounts and learning for a sustainable environment, 2022/2568(RSP)
- European Commission, Commission work programme 2021, October 2020
- European Commission, Communication on European Skills Agenda for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience, COM/2020/274, 1 July 2020
- European Commission: The European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan, March 2021
- European Commission: Proposal for a Council recommendation on individual learning accounts, 10 December 2021
- Council, Council Recommendation of 16 June 2022 on individual learning accounts
Author: Marketa Pape, Members' Research Service, firstname.lastname@example.org