Setting the new European agenda for adult learning 2021-2030
Political mobilisation and the influence of advocacy coalitions
Keywords:adult learning, agenda setting, advocacy coalition framework, belief system, European Union
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, international organisations and governments have issued mitigation policies, and (re)oriented broader policy strategies to respond to new problematisations about the future. In this context, the education ministers of the European Union (EU) adopted a Council Resolution on a new European agenda for adult learning 2021-2030. Drawing on the Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF), this paper examines the political mobilisation and agenda setting behind this Resolution through network ethnography and the analysis of belief systems. The findings point at an increased social dialogue, favoured by an ‘uncommon’ way – as by our informants – through which the Slovenian Ministry of Education pursued the agreed priority at EU level, while holding the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU. While visibility of adult learning rose under COVID-19, advocacy coalitions formed at national (Slovenian) and European level facilitated stronger alignment in agenda setting among different actors towards a holistic approach that calls for inter-sectorial and multi-stakeholder collaboration.
Ball, S. J. (2016). Following policy: networks, network ethnography and education policy mobilities. Journal of Education Policy, 31(5), 549–566. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/02680939.2015.1122232
Birkland, T. (2005). An introduction to the policy process: Theories, concepts, and models of public policymaking (2nd ed.). Routledge.
Bussi, M., & Milana, M. (forthcoming). The ideational policy trajectory of EU adult learning and skills policies up to COVID-19. In M. Milana, P. Rasmussen, & M. Bussi, Research Handbook on Adult Education Policy (pp. unknown). Edward Elgar.
CEDEFOP. (2020a). Adult learning and continuing vocational education and training valued by Europeans. Cedefop briefing note, November 2020. http://data.europa.eu/doi/10.2801/72311
CEDEFOP. (2020b). Towards new horizons. Cedefop briefing note, January 2020. http://data.europa.eu/doi/10.2801/075506
CEDEFOP. (2020c). Empowering people to cope with change. Cedefop briefing note, December 2020. http://data.europa.eu/doi/10.2801/82440
CEDEFOP. (2021). Trends, transitions and transformation. Cedefop briefing note, April 2021. http://data.europa.eu/doi/10.2801/33991
CEDEFOP. (2022). Cedefop’s mission. https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en
CEDEFOP, & ETF. (2020). The importance of being vocational. Challenges and opportunities for VET in the next decade. Publications Office of the European Union. http://data.europa.eu/doi/10.2801/009305
CEU. (2011). Council resolution on a renewed European agenda for adult learning. OJ No. C 372/1, 20.12.2011.
CEU. (2021). Council Resolution on a new European agenda for adult learning 2021-2030. OJ No. C 504/9, 12.12.2021.
Costa, O., & Brack, N. (2019). How the EU really works. Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781351249232
EAEA. (2019). Adult Learning in the 21st century: The Power and Joy of Learning. https://eaea.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/eaea_manifesto_final_web_version_290319.pdf
EAEA. (2020a). For a continuation of the European Agenda for Adult Learning after 2020. https://eaea.org/our-work/campaigns/for-a-continuation-of-the-european-agenda-for-adult-learning-after-2020/
EAEA. (2020b). Improving outreach and access to adult learning in times of COVID-19. https://eaea.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Improving-outreach-and-access-to-adult-learning-during-COVID-19_statement.pdf
EAEA. (2021a). Adult Education and Covid-19: A pledge for more Adult Learning and Education in and after the Coronavirus Pandemic. https://eaea.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/A-pledge-for-more-Adult-Learning-and-Education-in-and-after-the-Coronavirus-Pandemic.pdf
EAEA. (2021b). Adult Learning and Education is Key for the Future of Europe: EAEA welcomes the Council Resolution on a New European Agenda for Adult Learning. https://eaea.org/2021/12/09/new-european-agenda-for-adult-learning-for-europes-future/
EAEA. (2021c). Digitalisation and democracy: a context paper. https://eaea.org/2021/12/20/eaeas-working-group-publishes-context-paper-on-digitalisation-and-democracy/
EAEA. (2022). About us. https://eaea.org/about-us/
EBSN. (2020). EBSN 2020 Online Conference Declaration. https://basicskills.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/EBSN-Online-Conference-Declaration-2020.pdf
EBSN. (2021). 2021 Valletta Conference Declaration. https://basicskills.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/EBSN_Valletta_Conference_Declaration_final.pdf
EBSN. (2022). Vision & Objectives. https://basicskills.eu/welcome-to-the-ebsn-web-site/vision-and-objectives/
European Commission. (2022). Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion. https://ec.europa.eu/social/home.jsp?langId=en
EESC. (2021). Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on Adult learning (Exploratory opinion at the request of the Slovenian Presidency). OJ No. C 374/16, 8.7.2021.
EESC. (2022). About. https://www.eesc.europa.eu/en/about
ETF. (2021). Building lifelong learning systems: Skills for green and inclusive societies in the digital era. https://www.etf.europa.eu/sites/default/files/2021-12/skills_for_green_and_inclusive_societies_conference_conclusions.pdf
ETF. (2022). Mission. https://www.etf.europa.eu/en/about/mission-planning
ETF, EC, Cedefop, OECD, ILO, & UNESCO. (2021). Investing in career guidance. https://www.etf.europa.eu/sites/default/files/2021-09/investing_in_career_guidance.pdf
ETUC. (2020, November 3). Position on the European Skills Agenda and future skills strategies. https://www.etuc.org/en/document/etuc-position-european-skills-agenda-and-future-skills-strategies
ETUC. (2022). Education and Training. https://www.etuc.org/en/issue/education-and-training
Hogan, A. (2016). Network ethnography and the cyberflâneur: evolving policy sociology in education. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 29(3), 381–398. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09518398.2015.1053159
Howard, P. N. (2002). Network ethnography and the hypermedia organization: New media, new organizations, new methods. New Media & Society, 4(4), 550–574. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/146144402321466813
IGLL. (2020). Report: Towards a European Education Area? http://www.lll-interestgroup.eu/pdf/LLLIG%20-%20Report%20-%20Dec%202020.pdf
IGLL. (2021). Report: Wellbeing and Ageing: The Lifelong Learning Approach. http://www.lll-interestgroup.eu/pdf/LLLIG_Report_April_2021.pdf
IGLL. (2022). About. http://www.lll-interestgroup.eu/
Kingdon, J. W. (2014). Agendas, alternatives, and public policies (2nd ed.). Pearson.
Krick, E., & Gornitzka, Å (2019). The governance of expertise production in the EU Commission’s ‘high level groups’: tracing expertisation tendencies in the expert group system. In M. Bevir, & P. Ryan (Eds.), Decentering European Governance (pp. 102–120). Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781351209557-6
LLLP. (2020a). Lifelong Learning for Sustainable Societies. https://lLLLPlatform.eu/lll/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/LL4SS-4.pdf
LLLP. (2020b). European skills agenda: a step further to true Lifelong Learning. https://LLLPlatform.eu/lll/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Statement-New-Skills-Agenda.pdf
LLLP. (2021a). LLL Platform Reaction – European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan. https://LLLPlatform.eu/lll/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/LLLLP-Reaction-EPSR-AP.pdf
LLLP. (2021b). Investing in Education and Training for the Recovery of Europe. https://LLLPlatform.eu/lll/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Joint-statement_NRRPs_investment-in-skills-.pdf
LLLP. (2021c). European Civil Society for Education reaction to the European Commission Communication on Resetting education and training for the digital age. http://LLLPlatform.eu/lll/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/LLLLP_Digital-Education-Action-Plan_Reaction.pdf
LLLP. (2022). About us. https://lllplatform.eu/who-we-are/about-us/
Markard, J., Suter, M., & Ingold, K. (2016). Socio-technical transitions and policy change – Advocacy coalitions in Swiss energy policy. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, 18, 215-237. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eist.2015.05.003
McCann, E., & Ward, K. (2012). Assembling urbanism: following policies and 'studying through' the sites and situations of policy making. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 44(1), 42-51. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1068/a44178
MESS. (2022). Izobraževanje odraslih [Adult education]. https://www.gov.si/podrocja/izobrazevanje-znanost-in-sport/izobrazevanje-odraslih/
Mikulec, B. (2018). Normative presumptions of the European Union's adult education policy. Studies in the education of adults, 50(2), 133-151. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/02660830.2018.1522942
Milana, M. (2023). European Union. In R. J. Tierney, F. Rizvi, & K. Erkican (Eds.), International Encyclopedia of Education (vol. 1) (pp. 494–502). Elsevier. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-818630-5.01057-5
Milana, M. (2021). Anecdotalization: From individual to collective learning through intimate accounts. In C. Addey & N. Piattoeva (Eds.), Intimate Accounts of Education Policy Research: The Practice of Methods (pp. 91-106). Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003123613-7
Milana M., & Klatt G. (2019). Governing Adult Education Policy Development in Europe. In S. McGrath, M. Mulder, J. Papier, & R. Suart (Eds.), Handbook of Vocational Education and Training (pp. 789–812). Springer. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-94532-3_100
Milana, M., Klatt, G., & Tronca, L. (2020). Towards a network governance of European lifelong learning: a structural analysis of Commission expert groups. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 39(1), 31-47. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/02601370.2020.1729881
Milana, M., & Mikulec, B. (2022, August 23-25). EU policy work under external shocks: Re-orienting the European agenda on adult learning under the COVID-19 pandemic [Paper presentation]. ECER 2022, Yerevan. [Unpublished].
Milana, M., Tronca, L., & Klatt, G. (2020). European Governance in Adult Education: On the comparative advantage of joining working groups and networks. The European Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults, 11(2), 235-261. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3384/rela.2000-7426.ojs844
MIZŠ. (2021a). European Agenda for Adult Learning - Background paper for discussion [Unpublished].
MIZŠ. (2021b). Common conclusions: Meeting with stakeholders on future adult learning policies [Unpublished].
Morris, P., Park, C., & Auld, E. (2022) Covid and the future of education: global agencies ‘building back better’. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 52(5), 691–711. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/03057925.2022.2066886
Robertson, S. L. (2022). Guardians of the Future: International Organisations, Anticipatory Governance and Education. Global Society, 36(2), 188-205. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13600826.2021.2021151
Sabatier, P. A., & Weible, C. M. (2007). The Advocacy Coalition Framework. In P. A. Sabatier (Ed.), Theories of the Policy Process (pp. 189–220). Westview Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780367274689-7
Saldaña, J. (2009). The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers. SAGE Publications.
Thomas, D. R. (2006). A General Inductive Approach for Analyzing Qualitative Evaluation Data. American Journal of Evaluation, 27(2), 237-246. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1098214005283748
Valentini, A. (2021). How it went: Dual conference on Adult Learning and Education – The Resilient Response to Future Challenges. https://epale.ec.europa.eu/en/blog/how-it-went-dual-conference-adult-learning-and-education-resilient-response-future-challenges
Weible, C. M., & Nohrstedt, D. (2012). The advocacy coalition framework: Coalitions, learning and policy change. In E. Araral, S. Fritzen, M. Howlett, M. Ramesh, & X. Wu (Eds.), Routledge Handbook of Public Policy (pp. 125–137). Routledge.
Zancajo, A., Verger, A., & Bolea, P. (2022). Digitalization and beyond: the effects of Covid-19 on post-pandemic educational policy and delivery in Europe. Policy and Society, 41(1), 111-128. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/polsoc/puab016
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2023 Marcella Milana, Borut Mikulec
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
As RELA is an open access journal, this means that anyone who can access the Internet can freely download and read the journal. There are no commercial interests for Linköping University Electronic Press or the European Society for Research on the Education of Adults (ESREA) in publishing the journal. There are no charges for publishing authors.
The core idea of open access is that copyright remains with the author(s). However, we publish with the agreement of the author that if she or he decides later to publish the article elsewhere, that the publisher will be notified, prior to any acceptance, that the article has already been published by RELA.
When publishing with RELA, it is with the agreement of the author that if they make their article available elsewhere on the internet (for example, on their own website or an institutional website), that they will do so by making a link to the article as published in RELA using the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number of the article and acknowledge in the text of the site that the article has been previously published in RELA.