Lifelong Learning, Young Adults and the Challenges of Disadvantage


John Holford, Pepka Boyadjieva, Sharon Clancy, Günter Hefler and Ivana Studená (eds.)

Lifelong Learning, Young Adults and the Challenges of Disadvantage in Europe. Palgrave Studies in Adult Education and Lifelong Learning

Cham: Palgrave Macmillan

This open access book chal­lenges inter­na­tio­nal policy ‘groupt­hink’ about lifelong learning. Adult learning – too long a servant of business com­pe­ti­ti­ve­ness – should be reim­agi­ned as central to demo­cra­tic society. Young adults, espe­ci­al­ly from dis­ad­van­ta­ged back­grounds, engage more in education and training, and learn more day-to-day at work, if provision is demo­cra­ti­cal­ly organised and based on enduring and inclusive insti­tu­tio­nal networks, and when jobs encourage and reward the acqui­si­ti­on of skills. Using inno­va­ti­ve qua­li­ta­ti­ve and quan­ti­ta­ti­ve methods, the con­tri­bu­tors develop a critical per­spec­ti­ve on dominant policies, inve­sti­ga­ting – across the European Union and Australia – how ‘vul­nerable’ young adults expe­ri­ence pro­gram­mes designed to improve their ‘employa­bi­li­ty’, and how ‘skills for jobs’ policies squeeze out wider – and wiser – ideas of what education and training should do. Chapters show why some provision works for those with poor edu­ca­tio­nal back­grounds, why labour market and edu­ca­tio­nal insti­tu­ti­ons matter so much, how adult education can empower and expand people’s agency, and the chal­lenges of using arti­fi­ci­al intel­li­gence in lifelong learning policy-making. Several inve­sti­ga­te the pivotal role of workplace learning in orga­ni­sa­tio­nal life, and in learning during ‘emerging adulthood’. Important com­pa­ra­ti­ve studies of workplace learning in the metals, retail and adult education sectors show the role of manage­ment, trade unions and social movements in young adults’ learning.

Günter Hefler is one of the editors and author of several chapters in this book. He was also work package leader in the Horizon 2020 project ENLIVEN – Encouraging Lifelong Learning for an Inclusive and Vibrant Europe which this publi­ca­ti­on builds on. Eva Steinheimer and Janine Wulz were key rese­ar­chers in the project and co-authors of several chapters.


Hefler, Günter and Studená, Ivana (2022). The Interplay of Organisational and Individual Bounded Agency in Workplace Learning: A Framework Approach.

Clancy, Sharon; Hefler, Günter; Rapanà, Francesca; Steinheimer, Eva and Studená, Ivana (2022). Work and Learning in the Adult Education Sector: A Cross Country Comparative View.

Aurrekoetxea-Casaus, Maite; Bartolomé Peral, Edurne; Hefler, Günter; Studená, Ivana and Wulz, Janine (2022). Speaking Up: How Early Career Workers Engage in Fighting for Better Working Conditions by Joining Youth-Led Social Movement Organisations.

Hefler, Günter; Fedáková, Denisa; Steinheimer, Eva; Studená, Ivana and Wulz, Janine (2022). Early Career Workers’ Agency in the Workplace: Learning and Beyond in Cross-Country Comparative Perspective.