Lifelong Learning (LLL) and Employment Prospects: An Australian case by Allie Clemans, Anne Newton, Robbie Guevara and Sally Thompson try to answer the headline question,
“In what ways can LLL continually enhance employment prospects?”
The Australian case study has been guided by two objectives:
1. Identify the relationship between LLL and employment prospects in policy and
2. Document existing LLL policies, strategies and programs that illuminate such policies and practices, which are offered at national, regional and local levels through formal, non-formal and informal channels, and which contribute to the enhancement of employment prospects or employability of working-age citizens in the target country.
Summary of findings
- Lifelong learning is not an explicit component of contemporary education and training policy in Australia. More dominant is the notion that learning can enhance employment prospects but, for the most part, attention to learning is paid to its work-relatedness.
- Opportunities for lifelong learning and employment possibilities is most directly seen through vocational education and training (VET) and adult community education (ACE) and, for the most part, formal education and qualifications which focus on learning for the purpose of economic development, enterprise productivity and individual capacity building.
- While there is a strongly anticipated positive and direct link between qualification levels and employment opportunities, there are a number of features at play in Australia which prevent its realisation:
- People with low levels of education and skills often experience multi-layers of social disadvantage which constrains employment prospects;
- The link between education and employment opportunities for men and women differ significantly, exacerbated by the skills profile of men and women which play out in different ways;
- Most workers do not move into a different occupational or skill levels post training in VET.
- Perceptions of ‘lack of experience’ affect new graduates as well as more experienced workers such as migrants.
- The differences in industry demand, levels of economic activity, employment rates and varied patterns across Australia cut across a direct link between higher levels of educational achievement and employment opportunities.
- A dominant ‘education logic’ in Australia has resulted in an education and training system with a narrow approach to lifelong learning which focusses more on the life span than on life-relatedness. The Australian shows that life-relatedness, which comprises one aspect of lifelong learning, is worthy of attention and that, wellbeing, together with skill building, strengthens employment prospects.
- Transitions between learning and employment (employment, underemployment, unemployment) are multiple. The directions in which these movements take individuals involve ‘stop and starts’ rather than constant movement.
- The Australian case demonstrates that a policy framework does embed learning across the lifespan and does generate a variety of learning options that can, to some extent, accommodate the variety of learning motivations of Australians. However, more creative imagination and a forward-thinking could more effectively accommodate multiple transitions that are sensitive to individuals, their contexts and cultures and diverse motivations to engage in lifelong learning.