Staff training as a pillar of lifelong learning

Competence based teaching and learning: Mapping EICAA competences in further education programs – University of Hohenheim

In her research, Louisa Mach (University of Hohenheim) investigates how innovation and entrepreneurship related competences are captured and taught in staff training and education programs.

Lifelong learning (LLL) is a European initiative for fostering learning throughout the life of an individual. Before LLL became a “cradle-to-grave approach” (Volles, 2016, p. 344), learning initiatives concentrated on secondary education. By introducing a holistic approach to education, the EU integrates all education levels and education institutions. Learning refers to more than education alone – education is seen as a standardized process conducted by formal institutions, whereas learning is rather informal and can be undertaken at any point in life (Borg & Mayo, 2005; European Parliament & the Council of Europe, 2006). In 2018, the European Commission published the most recent update on key competences for LLL. The competences include literacy, multilingual competence, mathematical and scientific competence, digital competence, personal competence, citizen competence, cultural awareness, and entrepreneurship competence. Entrepreneurship competence comprises acting upon ideas and opportunities and transforming them into value for others (European Commission, 2019).

While learning during primary and secondary education is widely researched. Innovation and entrepreneurship competences have not been analyzed in the context of adult further education and training. Although, adult education integrates the principles of lifelong learning to add value to the social, cultural, and economic development of society as a whole (Sanchez et al., 2008), adult education in further staff training has not yet attracted widespread attention of researchers.

Louisa Mach sets out to address this gap by analyzing how innovation and entrepreneurship competences are captured and taught in staff training and further education.

Louisa Mach analyzes 72 further education programs in the state of Baden-Württemberg. She employs thematic analysis and competence mapping to identify important competences for staff training in the innovation context.

The sample focuses on lower-level learning goals and cooperative teaching methods for adult learning. Training offerings incorporate different competences into their programs, with a predominant focus on the competence area ‘Ideas and Opportunities’. Analysis of the underlying competence threads suggests a stronger teaching focus on creative and collaborative competences than theoretical or personal competences, knowledge, and skills. In addition, the sample implies that further staff training relies more on traditional teaching styles with trainer-centric learning settings.

Problem-based learning as well as mixed knowledge and mixed skill-based assessment can make it easier to achieve the holistic set of competencies required for entrepreneurship and innovation. Furthermore, Louisa Mach’s research shows that adult education is less focused on competences that integrate attitude domains, as adults’ attitudes toward innovation and entrepreneurship are already shaped. Leadership development, in particular, fosters an environment conducive to innovation and an organizational learning culture.

Although this sample only presents a small set of education programs, the underlying competence structure and teaching styles add to our knowledge of adult education. Organizational learning and transformational leadership create a better climate for fostering a holistic set of entrepreneurial and innovation competences. Moreover, further education increases lifelong learning for older members of the workforce and creates equality among learners. In order to fight the arising skill gap throughout Europe, adult education is an important cornerstone for competence development to foster innovation in EU member countries (European Commission, 2017).

Author: Louisa Mach, University of Hohenheim


Borg, C., & Mayo, P. (2005). The EU Memorandum on lifelong learning. Old wine in new bottles?. Globalisation, Societies and Education, 3(2), 203–225.

European Commission. (2016). A new skills agenda for Europe (COM/2016/0381 final).

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European Commission. (2019). Key competences for lifelong learning.

European Parliament, & Council of Europe. (2006). Action Programme in the Field of Lifelong Learning (2004–2006). Official Journal of the European Union, 327, 45–68.

Sanchez, A. V., Ruiz, M. P., Olalla, A. G., Mora, G. M., Paredes, J. A. M., Otero, J. M., San Ildefonso, M. I., & Eizaguirre, J. S. (2008). Competence-based learning.

Volles, N. (2016). Lifelong learning in the EU: changing conceptualisations, actors, and policies. Studies in Higher Education, 41(2), 343–363.