Rethinking generic skills


  • Roy Canning University of Stirling, Scotland, UK



Adult education, generic skills, Europe, language, competences


The paper provides a critical analysis of the notion of generic or transversal skills contained with European Union policy discourses. The author presents a conceptual framework that challenges the idea that generic skills are universal, transferable and autonomous. An alternative analysis is put forward that argues the case for contextualising skills and knowledge within particular understandings and cultures that are more collective than individualistic in nature. The arguments are framed within wider cross-disciplinary debates in linguistics, geosemiotics and social-cultural theory and build upon an earlier paper exploring core skills in the UK (Canning, 2007).


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How to Cite

Canning, R. (2013). Rethinking generic skills. European Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults, 4(2), 129–138.