2. Providing labour-market-relevant adult learning opportunities in Luxembourg

Adult learning occurs after initial education. Participation in adult learning can occur in formal and non-formal education programmes as well as in informal contexts (Box 2.1).

There are significant benefits to participation in adult learning for individuals, firms and society. Adult learning participation enables individuals to maintain and improve their skills to become more efficient, adapt to changing workplaces, be more socially and economically mobile and participate actively in increasingly diverse societies. Firms benefit from their employees’ participation in adult learning as it increases productivity, adaptability and innovation, all of which are important for competing effectively in an increasingly knowledge-based global society. Society benefits from increased adult learning participation as it spurs economic growth, can enable a fairer distribution of the benefits of growth and can strengthen social cohesion (OECD, 2019[1]).

For Luxembourg, the provision of labour-market-relevant adult learning opportunities is critical to help address the skills challenges resulting from ongoing megatrends, and more recently COVID-19, as well as achieve its economic ambitions in the long term.

Ongoing megatrends, such as globalisation, population ageing, migration, technological progress, and climate change, are driving skills needs in Luxembourg (see Chapter 1), increasing the need for effective adult learning policies. COVID-19 and its attendant containment measures have accelerated some of these megatrends. Most notably, technological progress is increasing the adoption of remote learning and teleworking practices and has underscored the need to provide all adults with access to adequate and tailored adult learning opportunities so that no individual is left behind.

Luxembourg has important economic ambitions that go beyond its prominent financial sector. The economy is diverse, with particularly strong employment growth in sectors such as wholesale, transportation, accommodation and food services, public administration, and health and social work (STATEC, 2021[2]). Important innovation clusters for Luxembourg’s future include mobility, health tech, wood, materials/manufacturing, creative industries and clean tech (Luxinnovation, 2021[3]). Ensuring Luxembourg has the skills required to support further growth and innovation in these and emerging sectors is essential for the country to thrive within the European Union and globally.

Luxembourg has recently introduced strategies that give adult learning a high priority on the political agenda. For example, adult learning policies are part of the recent (European Commission, 2021[4]) Recovery and Resilience Plan of Luxembourg (2021), with plans to provide reskilling and upskilling in particular for those adversely affected by COVID-19 (Ministry of Finance, 2021[5]). Similarly, Artificial Intelligence: A Strategy Vision for Luxembourg (2020) emphasises the need to increase learning in the workforce to support adaptation to new skills needs arising as the result of increasing adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies across sectors (Government of Luxembourg, 2021[6]). The current government has also recognised the value of adult learning in its Accord de Coalition (2018-2023), improving co-ordination among adult learning providers, simplifying the validation and recognition of prior learning, providing sector-specific and digital adult learning opportunities, and considering introducing a personal learning account, among others (Government of Luxembourg, 2018[7]).

This chapter analyses the provision of labour-market-relevant adult learning opportunities. While a strong foundation in initial education in one’s childhood and youth is critical for learning success later in life, extensive analysis of initial education itself is beyond the scope of the chapter. Furthermore, this chapter is concerned with the provision of adult learning opportunities, while Chapter 3 is concerned with incentives and guidance policies that encourage adults to participate in these adult learning opportunities.

This chapter begins with an overview of the current practices and performance indicators for providing labour-market-relevant adult learning opportunities in Luxembourg. It then discusses two opportunities for strengthening labour-market-relevant adult learning opportunities: improving the coherence and accessibility of adult learning; and increasing the relevance and ensuring the quality of adult learning opportunities.

Adult learning is measured as participation in formal education, non-formal education and informal learning during adulthood (Box 2.1). As this chapter’s scope is on labour-market-relevant adult learning opportunities, these different forms of adult learning are covered and analysed to the extent possible with available data sources when they are labour-market-relevant. In Luxembourg, this specific form of adult learning is referred to as continuous professional training (formation professionnelle continue) or continuous vocational training.

There are many different actors involved in the provision of adult learning. These include public sector actors (e.g. ministries, municipalities, government agencies and institutes), private sector actors (e.g. professional chambers, employers’ associations, unions, sectoral training bodies, private training providers), not-for-profit associations and foundations, and actors in the Greater Region, to name a few.

At the national level, three main ministries are responsible for adult learning.

The Ministry of Education, Children and Youth (Ministère de l’Éducation nationale, de l'Enfance et de la Jeunesse, MENJE) has responsibilities at many levels of education, including pre-school, primary, secondary, initial and continuous vocational education, back-to-education programmes and various adult learning programmes. MENJE is also responsible for several institutions involved in delivering education:

  • The National Languages Institute (Institut national des langues, INL) oversees language courses and examinations for adults.

  • The National Centre for Continuing Vocational Training (Centre national de formation professionnelle continue, CNFPC) provides training for adults (employees, job seekers or others) to acquire, maintain or extend professional knowledge and skills and to adapt them to social and technological requirements.

  • The Department of Adult Education (Service de la formation des adultes, SFA) provides second-chance learning opportunities, education in foundational skills (e.g. literacy, numeracy) and citizenship training.

  • The National Education Training Institute (Institut de Formation de l’Éducation nationale, IFEN) provides training and professional development for school staff.

  • The National Institute for the Development of Continuing Vocational Training (Institut national pour le développement de la formation professionnelle Continue, INFPC) promotes adult learning through administering financial support from the state for training provision (cofinancement de la formation); maintaining an adult learning information portal (lifelong-learning.eu) (INFPC, 2021[10]); building partnerships with news outlets to inform the public about adult learning; and monitoring training provision through its Training Observatory (Observatoire de la formation, OF) (Observatoire de la formation, 2021[11]), which gathers and regularly publishes statistical information about the provision of training in Luxembourg.

The Ministry of Higher Education and Research (Ministère de l'Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche, MESR) oversees, among other institutions, the University of Luxembourg (UL), which offers formal and non-formal adult learning programmes. The most recent initiative of the UL jointly with the Government is the creation of the University of Luxembourg Competence Centre (ULCC), which conducts regular studies analysing the skills needs in the labour market and provides training courses (e.g. massive open online courses) to a variety of sectors, in particular health, law, finance and information technology (IT) (University of Luxembourg Competence Centre, 2021[12]).

The Ministry of Labour, Employment and the Social and Solidarity Economy (Ministère du Travail, de l'Emploi et de l'Économie sociale et solidaire, MTEESS) has responsibilities for active labour market policies, guidance and counselling services, and a variety of skills development programmes for adults. The ministry also oversees the Agency for the Development of Employment (Agence pour le développement de l’emploi, ADEM), which implements the programmes to retrain (mostly) the unemployed, supports the reintegration of disabled workers, raises awareness about the importance of training and provides guidance and counselling, among other responsibilities (ADEM, 2021[13]). The ministry is also in charge of a training institute (École Supérieure du Travail), which is governed by a tripartite board and provides training in particular for employees, the self-employed and representatives from temporary employment agencies on topics such as labour law, social security, taxation and others (EST, 2021[14]).

In addition to the ministries, other national institutes provide adult learning opportunities. The National Institute for Public Administration (L'Institut national de l'administration publique, INAP) offers mandatory and elective training and professional development opportunities for government officials. The National School of Physical Education and Sports (L’École nationale de l’éducation physique et des sports, ENEPS) provides initial and continuous training for sports professionals, including coaches, referees and sports instructors, among others.

Besides these actors at the national level, municipalities also play an important role in providing adult learning opportunities for their residents and offer their own adult learning centres (e.g. Landesakademie). Examples of course offerings provided through these centres include music, first aid, languages, physical education and many others. Municipalities also operate, with financial support from the state, IT centres (Internetstuffen) that promote digital access and skills among participants. Municipalities have also increasingly started to work with one another in networks to provide adult learning services together (INFPC, 2021[10]).

Professional chambers, employers’ associations, unions and private training providers are also active actors in the adult learning system. Some of these assess skills needs through their surveys and offer their own adult learning programmes tailored to their sectors' specific needs. Besides these actors representing sectors, employers also play an important role in directly providing training to their employees, interns and adult apprentices.

A variety of private actors provide adult learning opportunities across sectors. Some actors offer adult learning opportunities in multiple sectors. For example, the House of Training, originally started by the Chamber of Commerce (CC) and the Luxembourg Banker’s Association (ABBL), offers diverse training opportunities in architecture, insurance, commerce, culture, hospitality, industry, transportation and logistics and many more. Similarly, the Luxembourg Lifelong Learning Centre (LLLC) was started by the Chamber of Employees (Chambre des salariés, CSL) to provide a variety of adult learning opportunities in the form of university-level programmes (in co-operation with universities), evening classes, seminars, certified courses, among others, across all sectors. In specific sectors, there are also specialised adult learning providers, for example, in agriculture (Landeswirtschaftskammer, LWK), construction (Institut de Formation Sectoriel du Bâtiment, IFSB), crafts (Centres de Compétence de l’Artisanat, CdC; Chambre des Métiers, CdM), accommodation and food services (Luxembourg School of Hospitality and Tourism, EHTL), human health and social work (DeWidong), among others.

The Federation of Approved Private Training Centres (Fédération des Centres de formation privés agréés) (FCF, 2021[15]) was recently established to represent the interests of private training providers. Private training providers are often small in size (see Opportunity 2) and can broadly be grouped into three categories: 1) specialised for-profit training bodies providing training, for example, in languages, human resources, safety, health, environment, financial management, law, banking, management, among others; 2) commercial companies that sell specific hardware or equipment and offer training on how to use such hardware and equipment to buyers; 3) consultancy firms or independent consultants providing management-related training. Training providers offer courses often in a variety of languages (e.g. German, English, French) and in several countries besides Luxembourg (INFPC, 2021[16]).

INFPC, which is under MENJE, offers public and private training providers the opportunity to be featured on its website (lifelong-learning.lu) as well as in an annual list of registered training providers. While the website provides information on many training providers, not all training providers active in Luxembourg are named in its list of providers. The most recent list from 2021 includes 455 organisations offering training services in Luxembourg (INFPC, 2021[17]).

In addition to private sector actors, a significant number of not-for-profit associations and foundations offer adult training. As in the case of private training providers, not-for-profit associations and foundations offer training options in a variety of fields of study, such as banking, insurance, human resources, construction, tourism, restaurant, management languages, information technology (IT) and health, among others (INFPC, 2021[17]). Like private training providers, INFPC, as a public institution that promotes adult learning, also offers not-for-profit associations and foundations the opportunity to be featured on its website (lifelong-learning.lu) and in its annual list of training providers.

In addition to actors within Luxembourg, public and private actors in the Greater Region are also relevant for Luxembourg, given its large number of cross-border workers. The Greater Region includes Luxembourg, the neighbouring regions of France (Lorraine), Germany (Saarland, Rhineland-Palatine) and Belgium (Wallonia) and has a combined population of about 11.2 million inhabitants (STATEC, 2021[2]). Luxembourg’s population alone is 626 000 (STATEC, 2021[2]).

The most important body for Greater Region co-operation is the Summit Secretariat of the Greater Region, which organises the Summit of the Greater Region (Sommet de la Grande Région) and brings together senior representatives from the Greater Region to discuss how to co-operate in implementing policies and initiatives (Grande Région, 2021[18]). Additional bodies support the Summit Secretariat. The Interregional Parliamentary Council comprises parliamentary representatives from the Greater Region whose responsibilities cover a few policy areas, including education and adult learning. The Economic and Social Committee of the Greater Region represents employees and employers and collaborates on a variety of topics, including education and the labour market. The Interregional Labour Market Observatory (L’Observatoire interrégional du marché de l’emploi, IBA-OIE) gathers information about the labour market in the region and publishes regular reports that are provided as input for the regular summit (IBA-OIE, 2021[19]).

Besides these co-ordination bodies, several learning institutions are relevant for Luxembourg, given that cross-border workers participating in their programmes can acquire relevant skills for their jobs in Luxembourg. Example institutions include, in Belgium, the Technifutur, Technofutur TIC and the Digital Wallonia Hub, which provide training in IT and digital domains. In France, Digital Industry Tools Experts (DITEX) at the Université de Lorraine provides training in engineering, manufacturing and management (DITEX, 2021[20]), while the Pôle Formation UIMM Lorraine (Union des Industries et Métiers de la Métallurgie) provides vocational training. Finally, in Germany, the Mittelstand 4.0 Kompetenzzentrum Saarbrücken provides training in digital and other skills for industry 4.0 (Mittelstand 4.0 Kompetenzzentrum Saarbrücken, 2021[21]).

Several strategies and initiatives have been launched to co-ordinate adult learning provision among relevant actors in Luxembourg. Example strategies include, the Recovery and Resilience Plan of Luxembourg, Artificial Intelligence: A Strategic Vision for Luxembourg, the National Action Plan for Integration, and the Lifelong Learning Strategy (Table 2.1). Most of these strategies support skills-related policies and programmes as a component of larger and more comprehensive strategies. For example, the most recent Recovery and Resilience Plan of Luxembourg underscores the importance of skills policies to support Luxembourg’s recovery and efforts to become more resilient. The latest comprehensive strategy specifically on the topic of adult learning was the Lifelong Learning Strategy (S3L) of 2012, which was developed through extensive consultations with relevant stakeholders and included specific recommendations. Example recommendations that have been implemented include the launch of a diploma (Diplôme d’accès aux études supérieures, DAES) to allow drop-outs from secondary education to gain access to higher education; and the creation of a single website (lifelong-learning.lu) that centralises information on adult learning, among others.

The available evidence on the provision of labour-market-relevant adult learning opportunities suggests that Luxembourg is doing well compared to the EU average. However, there is room for improvement to reach the EU adult learning 2025 targets and to avoid falling behind other leading EU countries. Furthermore, there are important variations in performance within Luxembourg among groups from different socio-economic backgrounds and sectors, highlighting the importance of tailoring adult learning policies to the specific needs of groups.

Participation in adult learning is relatively higher in Luxembourg than in the EU and the Greater Region. Based on the latest available Labour Force Survey (LFS) data (2020), which measures participation in education and training in the last four weeks, around 16% of adults in Luxembourg were participating (Figure 2.1). This rate is above the EU average (9%) and the Greater Region average (8%). Neighbouring countries, such as France (12%), Germany (7%) and Belgium (4%), have significantly lower participation rates than Luxembourg. Even though Luxembourg is ahead of its neighbours, it lags behind leading EU countries, such as Sweden (29%), Switzerland (28%) and Finland (27%). For Luxembourg to reach a level comparable with Sweden’s, an additional 45 000 adults would need to participate in adult learning monthly.

Participation in formal and non-formal adult education in the past 12 months, as measured in the 2016 Adult Education Survey (AES), shows some similarities and differences with the LFS data (Figure 2.1). The participation rate in Luxembourg (43%) is higher than in the European Union (38%) and Belgium (39%) but behind France (48%), Germany (46%) and leading countries, such as the Netherlands (57%), Sweden (59%) and Switzerland (62%). The EU Skills Agenda uses this indicator to measure progress towards achieving its objectives (European Commission, 2020[27]). The EU-level target is for at least 50% of all adults between 25-64 years to be participating in adult learning by 2025. For Luxembourg to achieve this target, an additional 26 000 adults would need to participate in adult learning within a 12-month period.

Participation in adult learning also differs significantly across socio-economic backgrounds. Individuals who work in elementary occupations, who have lower secondary education levels, who are older than 55  or are cross-border workers and males, have lower participation rates relative to individuals who work in professional occupations, have higher education, are of prime age (25-54 years old), are Luxembourg-based workers, and female (Figure 2.2). Individuals with permanent contracts and who are employed have adult learning participation rates around the average but lower rates than those on temporary contracts or who are unemployed. The significant variation within Luxembourg highlights the need to provide adult learning opportunities that are sufficiently accessible for all groups.

As noted in the previous section, various actors are responsible for providing different adult learning opportunities in Luxembourg. Some actors are responsible for formal programmes, others for non-formal programmes and others for both programmes.

Regarding formal adult education, the most important providers are: 1) secondary education schools; 2) vocational schools; and 3) the University of Luxembourg and private higher education institutions. Collectively, these institutions provide a greater number of programmes at different education levels.

Employers play a particularly important role in providing labour-market-relevant adult learning opportunities among the various adult learning providers. While employers provide the most non-formal learning opportunities in Luxembourg, they provide relatively fewer learning opportunities to adults than employers in many other EU countries. Compared to its European neighbours, the share of employers providing training to their employees is relatively small. Based on the latest available data from the European Company Survey (2019), around 32% of employers in Luxembourg provide training to most of their workforce, which is higher than France (30%), but below the EU average (35%) and neighbouring countries, such as Germany (35%) and Belgium (37%), and significantly below that of leading EU countries, such as Austria (48%), Finland (55%) and Ireland (57%).

Within Luxembourg, adult learning provision varies significantly by sector and firm size (Figure 2.3). The highest participation rates in adult learning are found in the public administration, defence, and education sector, followed by health and social services in second place, and financial and insurance services in third place. Conversely, the sectors with the lowest share of firms providing adult learning include: professional, scientific and technical services; wholesale, retail, transportation, hotels, and restaurants; and other services. Looking at the latest results from the European Continuing Vocational Training Survey (CVTS) for 2020, there are also important differences across firm size. Indeed, the CVTS shows that larger firms are more active in adult learning provision than smaller firms. For instance, a greater share of the largest firms, with 250+ employees, provide continuing vocational training provision (98%) and have a dedicated training budget (68%) and hence, more resources to support adult learning provision, compared to the smallest firms with 10-49 employees. Some 63% of these smallest firms provide continuing vocational education and training (CVET) courses, and 27% have a training budget. In Luxembourg, larger firms are more likely than medium and smaller firms to benefit from subsidies (59% compared to only 13% of smaller enterprises), as illustrated through the co-financing programme of the state supporting adult learning provision (see Chapter 3).

Luxembourg’s performance in providing labour-market-relevant adult learning opportunities is due to many factors. These include individual, institutional, and system-level factors and the country's broader economic and social conditions. However, two key opportunities for improvement have been identified based on a literature review, desk analysis and data and input from officials and stakeholders consulted in conducting this OECD Skills Strategy.

Luxembourg’s main opportunities for improvement in providing labour-market-relevant adult learning opportunities are:

  1. 1. improving the coherence and accessibility of adult learning opportunities

  2. 2. increasing the relevance and ensuring the quality of adult learning opportunities.

It is critical for Luxembourg’s adult learning system to be coherent to be effective. While in Luxembourg, both public and private sector actors are active in providing adult learning opportunities, they could work more closely together, learn from each other and be guided by an overarching strategy to co-ordinate their respective efforts and avoid unnecessary overlaps, contradictions and gaps. As Luxembourg is economically closely integrated in the Greater Region, more co-ordination with actors in the Greater Region could improve the coherence of the adult learning opportunities they provide.

Another challenge that actors in Luxembourg highlighted during the review process was improving the accessibility of adult learning opportunities. While the demand-side factors affecting accessibility are explored in detail in Chapter 3, this chapter explores the supply-side factors affecting accessibility. Luxembourg could expand modular adult learning programmes and provide digital basic skills programmes, for example.

Luxembourg lacks a coherent approach to adult learning provision. Policy coherence occurs when multiple actors, such as public and private actors, work together to create the necessary enabling environment, mobilise resources and pursue collective action to achieve shared goals (OECD, 2016[28]). In the absence of policy coherence, policies can overlap, be contradictory, and gaps can arise. Moreover, insufficient co-ordination between relevant actors means that they may be unaware of what other actors are doing; they may not learn from one another; and they may not be able to reinforce each other’s efforts (see Chapter 4). Therefore, a coherent approach to adult learning provision is needed, involving both public and private sector actors in Luxembourg, as well as actors in Luxembourg and its neighbouring regions.

Greater co-ordination and collaboration are needed to guide the actions of public and private sector actors. Public and private sector actors have their respective roles and responsibilities in the adult learning system. When all actors work together, this raises the effectiveness of the adult learning offer. A coherent approach can be achieved when all relevant actors are sufficiently and successfully engaged.

Actors in Luxembourg frequently noted that while a variety of promising initiatives are taking place, there is not enough coherence between the different approaches. Actors are implementing adult learning programmes often without being aware of other initiatives.

Similar to other countries, such as Belgium and France, Luxembourg engages social partners in the definition of its training system (Table 2.2), which means that social partners participate in identifying training needs as well as developing, funding, implementing and monitoring training programmes. This goes further than in many other countries, where social partners often only have a consulting role. However, there are also countries where the level of engagement is even more advanced. For example, in Germany and the Netherlands, social partners are engaged in the definition of the training system and its management.

A few steps have been taken to increase coherence in Luxembourg's training activities in the public and private sectors. In the latest Coalition Agreement 2018-2023, the Government of Luxembourg has made a commitment to co-ordinating among all relevant actors in the adult learning system (Government of Luxembourg, 2018[7]).

Furthermore, and as a reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tripartite Co-ordination Committee (Comité de coordination tripartite) created a working group called Skillsdësch (“Skills Table”), which brings together the relevant ministries (MENJE and MTEESS) as well as key stakeholders (e.g. employers’ associations, chambers, unions, private training providers). The Skillsdësch met for the first time in the summer of 2020 and is mandated to develop a future-oriented skills strategy aligned with the demands of the private sector.

Several steps have also been taken to increase the coherence of training activities within sectors in Luxembourg. For example:

  • In the finance sector, the ABBL has a working group with representatives across the sector to regularly map the existing training measures (i.e. non-formal and formal programmes) and, based on this work, propose co-ordination mechanisms to address any gaps, if found (ADEM and UEL, 2021[32]).

  • In the construction and crafts sector, the Crafts Competence Centres (CdC-GTB/PAR) organise twice annually a survey of members to identify the sectors skills needs, what types of adult learning programmes have been implemented by members, which occupations are covered by adult learning programmes and the likely number of programme participants. This sectoral-level information is helpful to co-ordinate the efforts of actors in the sector (CdC-GTB, 2022[33]).

  • In the industry sector, the Federation of Luxembourgish Industrials (FEDIL) organises two surveys (one on industry and one on IT) to assess the types of adult learning programmes provided by employers, skills needs, recruitment difficulties and needs for further collaboration. FEDIL also engages actors in the Greater Region (as will be discussed in the next section) (FEDIL, 2022[34]).

A challenge in using the data from these surveys to assess skills issues at the Luxembourg level is that they are qualitative in nature and participation rates are low and, therefore, not representative. They also do not use a common and comprehensive skills classification framework, which makes it difficult to link these data sources (see Chapter 5).

Stakeholders in Luxembourg have highlighted the need to further improve co-ordination at the national level in the longer term. This would be beneficial for several reasons. While existing initiatives at the national, and some sectoral, levels have been significant, Luxembourg has been without a comprehensive and forward-looking adult learning strategy for some time. The last adult learning strategy was launched in 2012, and actors have emphasised the need to update that strategy. A forward-looking, national adult learning strategy could generate significant benefits. It could clearly identify the roles and responsibilities of all relevant actors, include adult learning targets, identify funding sources to achieve these targets, and hold all actors accountable for their contributions through regular monitoring and evaluation. Furthermore, such a strategy could also allow Luxembourg to more effectively co-ordinate its efforts to reach the EU Skills Agenda 2025 adult learning targets (e.g. 50% adult learning participation rate1) and to achieve its ambitions, as outlined in the Recovery and Resilience Plan (2021-2026) (Ministry of Finance, 2021[5]), to become more sustainable and resilient, and be better prepared for the green and digital transitions.

Across the OECD, many countries have developed and implemented adult learning strategies (Table 2.3). In some cases, these are dedicated adult learning strategies, while others are broader strategies providing recommendations for adult learning. Many strategies identify quantitative targets, deadlines, dedicated funding sources and monitoring plans.

As mentioned in the previous section, Luxembourg's most recent dedicated adult learning strategy was the Lifelong Learning Strategy from 2012. It did not include quantitative targets, deadlines or identified dedicated funding sources. Although the strategy established a committee to monitor progress involving MENJE, the chambers, and the Service de Coordination de la Recherche et de l’Innovation pédagogiques et technologiques (SCRIPT)2and initially met three to four times a year, it eventually stopped meeting. In addition, the implementation of some recommendations (e.g. creating the DAES, a diploma for those that could not finish their secondary education to access higher education) was delayed since changes to the legal framework were required and took a number of years to accomplish.

Stakeholders in Luxembourg commented that the tenth anniversary since the launch of the strategy could be a fitting moment for Luxembourg to create a new strategy that would, in particular, take into account the most recent challenges since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis and provide a more forward-looking vision to support Luxembourg’s recovery and long-term growth.

A similar comprehensive national skills strategy was launched in Ireland (Box 2.2), which is a model that Luxembourg could consider. Given the rapidly changing landscape, the latest and comprehensive skills data (see Chapter 5) should be borne in mind for the design, implementation and evaluation of such a national adult learning strategy for Luxembourg.

Given Luxembourg’s high reliance on cross-border workers, co-ordination and collaboration in the area of adult learning are also needed between actors in Luxembourg and those in the Greater Region (CGFP and LCGB, 2021[37]). Around 47% of Luxembourg’s labour force are cross-border workers (i.e. those who work in Luxembourg and live in the neighbouring regions of Belgium, France and Germany) (see Chapter 4). Ensuring that these cross-border workers have sufficient and relevant adult learning opportunities is thus in Luxembourg’s interest. It is also in the interest of the neighbouring regions of Belgium, France and Germany to provide their residents with relevant adult learning opportunities and support their participation in the Luxembourg labour market, as this reduces their risk of unemployment and alleviates the financial burden on their social and healthcare services (see Chapter 4). Furthermore, co-operating with actors in the Greater Region in the provision of adult learning would make it possible to reach a critical mass of participants needed to provide adult learning programmes in certain specialised subject areas. Some of these programmes would not be economically sustainable if they served only Luxembourg’s relatively small population.

The participation rate in adult learning among cross-border workers in regions of neighbouring countries is significantly below that of workers residing in Luxembourg. In 2020, the participation rate in adult learning in Luxembourg was 51%, which was higher than in neighbouring countries, Belgium (45%), Germany (44%) and France (39%). While cross-border workers who reside in the Greater Region can theoretically access adult learning programmes in Luxembourg, participation in programmes in Luxembourg can be challenging, especially when programmes take place outside working hours (e.g. evenings or weekends). Many cross-border workers have a long commute (relative to Luxembourg-based workers) (see Chapter 4) from their workplace in Luxembourg to their home in a neighbouring region, which constrains the time they have for additional adult learning programmes outside working hours. Furthermore, cross-border workers may face language barriers when adult learning programmes in Luxembourg are only available in one of the languages they may not speak.

Participation in adult learning across the Greater Region could be raised through greater co-operation among providers in the Greater Region. For example, cross-border apprenticeships (L'Apprentissage transfrontalier, TRF) allow adults (cross-border workers or workers residing in Luxembourg) to receive on-the-job training in a company in Luxembourg, while attending an approved school in the Greater Region.3However, in 2021, the number of adults participating in a cross-border apprenticeship programme was only 17, representing only 2% of all adult apprenticeships in the same year (ADEM, 2021[13]).

Overall participation in cross-border initiatives, such as cross-border adult apprenticeships, is still modest, suggesting there is potential to raise collaboration efforts even further across the Greater Region. Stakeholders in Luxembourg have noted that one of the challenges with these cross-border initiatives is informing potential adult learning participants of these opportunities. While information about adult learning programmes is available in Luxembourg (INFPC, 2022[38]) and similar portals exist in Belgium, France and Germany, there is no single portal4for the Greater Region. This makes it difficult for potential candidates to learn about the programmes available in neighbouring countries, their benefits, how to access them, and how to receive support (e.g. financial, etc.) to benefit from them. In the Oberrhein region between France, Germany and Switzerland, individuals have access to a single portal (TRIFOB, n.d.[39]) that hosts comprehensive information about adult learning opportunities across the three countries (Box 2.3).

Several regional bodies (e.g. Summit Secretariat of the Greater Region, the Interregional Parliamentary Council, the Economic and Social Committee of the Greater Region, and the Observatory for the Greater Region Labour Market) play an important role in strengthening collaboration across the Greater Region. The actors represented in these various bodies contribute to regular discussion papers (Les Cahiers de la Grande Région), which include recommendations for improving collaboration in adult learning provision. For example, the November 2020 edition proposed that actors in the Greater Region should collaborate on skills needs assessments in key occupations (e.g. health professionals, mechanics and engineers) and explore collaboration of training centres across borders. Actors in the Greater Region could also co-invest in training across borders by sharing training costs (Pigeron-Piroth and Belkacem, 2020[42]). Co-operation on adult learning could be further strengthened through a formal co-operation agreement among the Greater Region actors.

A relevant example of cross-border co-operation in adult learning provision can already be found in the industry sector. The DigiMob Industrie 4.0 project (Grande Région, 2021[18]) brings actors across the Greater Region together to develop a coherent approach to training workers to meet shared skills needs for Industry 4.0. Greater Region actors include public employment services, training centres and employers’ associations, among others. From Luxembourg, key partners in this initiative include MENJE/Service de la formation professionnelle (SFP), the CC, the House of Training and ADEM. The innovative aspect of this initiative is that the actors of the Greater Region collectively identify the relevant skills and develop training programmes that develop these skills for their respective residents. An example of a shared training programme is the Maintenance and Production Operators 4.0 programme, which targets job seekers in the Greater Region and leads to a certification in the form of “Badges”, which are recognised across the entire Greater Region. The project is financed through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) funds (60%) and funds from key partners in Belgium, France and Luxembourg. For the project's duration (October 2019 to December 2022), the goal is to train 165 job seekers in the Greater Region. This initiative, and others like it, could be expanded and introduced to other sectors.

It is important to ensure that all adults, regardless of their socio-economic background, have access to upskilling and reskilling programmes to be well-equipped to thrive in an evolving labour market. While Chapter 3 considers how financial and information barriers can be overcome to improve access, this chapter considers how accessibility can be improved through the provision of modular adult learning programmes and the provision of digital adult learning programmes. Each of these is discussed in turn.

One approach to making adult learning opportunities accessible is through modular programmes. Modular programmes divide a formal education programme into smaller, self-contained modules. Each module has its own curriculum and learning objectives, which, once achieved, leads to certified credits or partial qualifications (also known as micro-credentials). These credits or partial qualifications can then be tracked in a personal learning portfolio and combined into a full qualification over time. The benefit of such an approach is that it gives the learner more flexibility and choice in their learning pursuits, as learners can test and try different modules without having to commit to a full-fledged programme, while at the same time providing them with the opportunity to use these credits to earn a credential. Learners can also pursue these modules in their own time (OECD, 2019[43]).

Modular programmes are particularly relevant for individuals with low levels of education and the unemployed as individual modules are more manageable to complete one at a time and spread out over time (Fouarge, Schils and de Grip, 2013[44]). A more flexible modularised programme offering would help increase uptake and lower the drop-out rate among individuals and the unemployed.

In Luxembourg, the participation rate (3.9%) in formal adult education is close to the EU average (4%) but is significantly lower than that of leading EU countries, such as Iceland (11%), Finland (10%), Sweden (10%), Netherlands (8%) and Denmark (7%). In Luxembourg,5 individuals with higher levels of education (4.6%) are significantly more likely to participate in formal adult education than individuals with medium (2.7%) or low (2.5%) levels of education (Figure 2.4). Offering more formal adult education programmes as modular programmes has the potential to raise the participation rate for individuals with lower levels of education.

The University of Luxembourg provides several formal adult education programmes at the bachelor and master levels in diverse subject areas (e.g. computer science, health, economics and management, behavioural and cognitive sciences). Programme duration varies between two and three years, and programmes can be pursued on a part-time basis. In addition, the university offers a variety of shorter certificate programmes, which can vary from 8 days (e.g. Certificate in Sustainable Finance), 3 weeks (e.g. Certificate in Principles of Biobanking) to 12 months (e.g. Certificate in management for the health sector). Some programmes lead to a certificate of participation, while others lead to a certificate granting credits within the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS).6 When there are relevant diploma programmes, these credits accumulated through certificate programmes can be used to fulfil part of the requirements and shorten the duration of the diploma programme. While most programmes are structured in individual modules, it is currently not possible for learners to sign up for individual modules. Instead, learners must sign up for a whole programme, which can constitute a significant commitment in terms of time and finances and thus make it less accessible. Moreover, modules are not transferable across programmes. The module structure and size are not yet standardised across the whole university and have been designed to fit only within a specific programme. The university does not have an interoperable module structure across programmes because each programme features a distinct core course and optional modules. The possibility of offering major-minor combinations is currently being explored.

The University of Luxembourg’s Competence Centre (ULCC), which was created as a joint initiative between the University of Luxembourg and the government to co-ordinate and provide adult education programmes in partnership with external partners, offers a certificate programme for the Promotion of Children’s Physical Activity (Bewegungsförderung), for which all modules were made individually accessible (University of Luxembourg Competence Centre, 2021[45]). Thus, learners can join individual modules that are of most interest to them in their own time and at their own pace and based on their specific interests. The advantage of this flexible approach has been raising the average number of participating students across modules and making the programme financially feasible. The Luxembourg national qualifications framework currently does not cover formal adult education programmes of shorter duration, such as the certificate programme of the Competence Centre.

A modular adult learning programme was also developed in the crafts sector by the Crafts Competence Centres (CdC-GTB/PAR). Each of their adult learning programmes has clear skills outcomes that correspond to one of the eight levels of the European Qualification Framework (EQF)7 and follows a credit point system. The modules, also called “bricks of training” (briques de formation), are each well-defined and self-contained units. This modular approach allows participating individuals to accumulate credit points that can then be stacked and recognised within the crafts sector and thus facilitate vertical mobility (i.e. stackable model, Stufenmodell). This approach also makes it possible to support horizontal mobility, with modules being transferable across subject areas (Goetzinger and Bourgeois, 2018[46]). While this approach seems promising, it only exists in the crafts sector.

Various private adult training institutions offer courses resulting in certifications and even foreign university degrees. Most of them focus on a specific sector or type of course. For example, the House of Training, the training institution of the CC, provides courses mainly aimed at employees of companies sent to attend day courses. The House of Training offers a large number of courses to companies and individuals active in some 20 different economic sectors, from banking to Horeca. The LLLC, which is the training centre of the CSL, provides training to employees and offers programmes on different subjects. The LLLC also partners with a variety of universities (e.g. University of Luxembourg, University Paris Nanterre, University of Lorraine, University of Rennes I, University Panthéon-Assas Paris II, University of Lille) to propose university diplomas, such as bachelor and master’s degrees (LLLC, 2022[47]). The courses are mainly offered outside working hours (House of Training, 2021[48]; LLLC, 2022[49]; 2022[47]).

Overall, the current offer of adult learning programmes varies greatly in applying a modular approach. An overarching challenge is the lack of a consistent skills classification across Luxembourg at a national level, to which all modular approaches adhere. In practice, this means that the different modular-based initiatives are not interoperable and, thus, do not reinforce each other. If all adult learning programme modules used the same skills classification system (e.g. the European Skills, Competences, Qualifications and Occupations Classification [ESCO]; see Chapter 5, Recommendation 4.8), and if these were mutually recognised by all actors and officially validated (e.g. by MENJE), then individuals would have more flexibility in being able to take different modules from different providers and combine them, based on individual preference, needs and availability.

Since the crafts sector has already developed a skills framework for the modularised adult learning programmes in its sector, it could be a source of inspiration for the eventual adoption of a common skills classification approach across all sectors, thereby making all adult learning modules eventually interoperable and transferable. If the modules are furthermore linked to a (or multiple) level(s) of the EQF, individuals could then stack modules, receive corresponding credits (potentially leading to a micro-credential) and have these eventually be recognised to either shorten the duration of a corresponding formal education programme.

In 2021, the European Commission adopted a proposal to introduce a European approach to micro-credentials for adult learning. The aim is to develop for micro-credentials a common EU definition, EU standards and key principles for design, issuance and portability across borders. Furthermore, the Commission plans to support the development of a coherent and transparent ecosystem for micro-credentials across the European Union (European Commission, n.d.[50]). Ireland is actively engaged in developing modules that lead to micro-credentials (Box 2.4). If Luxembourg decides to support the development of modules leading to micro-credentials, it would be important to align the approach with the ongoing EU-wide initiative.

By following a common regulatory framework, all modules would thus be in a standard and comparable format and enhance horizontal and vertical career mobility and trajectories. Individuals could more easily transfer across sectors, as modules (particularly those that target transversal skills, such as soft skills or digital skills) they completed in one sector could be recognised and built upon in another sector. Individuals would also have greater vertical career mobility (i.e. Stufenmodell - stackable model), as the modules accumulated over time and leading to formal diplomas could open career advancement opportunities.

Since initial education (e.g. initial vocational education and training) is already organised in modules, the modules in adult learning (e.g. CVET) should be organised in a way that is coherent with those in initial education. While the modules in adult learning do not need to be identical to those in initial education in terms of content and duration, they could be aligned in terms of learning objectives and outcomes. All modules should be transparent and have clear learning outcomes, so it is easier to “mix and match” modules from different systems towards a qualification or training path. This would make it easier for individuals who have dropped out in initial education to build on completed modules in initial education and then identify and pursue any missing modules during adult education to fulfil all requirements for a formal degree.

Furthermore, modular training programmes could be offered, providing a learning path across one’s career. Such an approach already exists in certain professions, such as accountants and back-office officers, among others. For these professions, the person can follow a structured modular learning path starting from a beginner level and up to an expert level. To achieve this, the skills to master each level have been identified and linked to learning modules and courses. Employers can then use this information to create personalised training plans to match modules with the skills needs of their employees. Individuals could use this information to plan their career trajectories over the life course, identifying which modules would be required to switch careers or to move up to the next level. If professional profiles could be developed in a consistent format for all sectors and linked to all modules, this would facilitate and support access to adult learning.

Adult learning opportunities should be made more accessible by making use of digital learning platforms. Digital learning platforms enable online learning, which can be a powerful way of attracting, engaging and motivating learners who would otherwise not be interested or willing to participate in traditional education formats. Moreover, online learning can reduce learning obstacles, such as time barriers, and be tailored to the individual learner's specific learning needs and profile.

Overall, there are three different types of online learning. First, asynchronous online courses do not take place in real time. Instead, learners receive content and assignments and are then given time to complete the coursework and exams. Interaction among learners is facilitated through discussion boards, blogs and wikis. This type of learning is particularly accessible for adult learners with busy schedules and time constraints. Second, synchronous online courses require all learners to interact on line at the same time. Such interaction could occur, for example, during a webinar, and learners may communicate with each other live through video, audio or chat. This type of learning is possible when adult learners are in the same time zone and available during the same time slots, for example, in the evening or at weekends. Accessibility to such courses will largely depend on individuals’ availability in the proposed time slots. Third, hybrid courses or blended courses allow learners to have the chance to interact with the instructor and each other in person as well as online. This type of learning is possible when adult learners are geographically in the same location and can easily access in-person meetings.

Increasingly, adult learning providers in Luxembourg offer their programmes through digital platforms in online formats. Since 2013, the share of adult learning providers offering online learning formats has increased significantly (Figure 2.5) across private providers, institutional, sectoral providers and not-for-profit associations. This was happening before the COVID-19 pandemic started, but the pandemic has further accelerated the adoption of digital tools for learning. The Luxembourg Media and Digital Design Centre plays an important role in supporting this transition to online formats. The Centre, initiated by the MENJE, MESR and the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology, provides advisory and technical assistance to education providers in designing and producing digital content for learning. Furthermore, the centre operates a platform that hosts digital learning content from a variety of providers (Luxembourg Media and Digital Design Centre, 2022[52]).

However, not all sectors are benefitting equally from online learning opportunities. For the latest available year (2019) of data, the share of online training provision by sectors also varies significantly, with some sectors, such as financial and insurance activities (66%), information and communication (40%) and industry (38%) having higher shares of training providers offering online learning options than other sectors, such as arts, entertainment, recreation (6%), agriculture, forestry and fisheries (8%) and accommodation and food services (8%) (INFPC, 2019[53]). This variation suggests that online learning may be more suitable to support skills development in some sectors than others.

While greater provision of online learning can increase overall accessibility, not all groups are equally equipped to benefit from this format. For example, managers, executives and employees of the private sector (81%) have a significantly higher participation rate in online learning than job seekers (21%) (INFPC, 2019[53]). For some groups, low basic digital skills can be an important obstacle to accessing online learning. Around 30% of adults in Luxembourg report low basic digital skills,8 and there are significant differences by background characteristics. For example, individuals with lower levels of education, lower income and who have temporary contracts are more likely to have low digital skills than individuals with higher levels of education, higher income, who are prime age and who have permanent contracts (Figure 2.6).

In Luxembourg, there are several initiatives to support adults in developing basic digital skills. An example initiative includes the International Computer Driving Licence (ICDL), an internationally recognised programme targeting basic to advanced digital skills and leading to a widely recognised private certificate implemented by the LLLC. Internet-Führerschäin, which MENJE organises, provides basic digital skills leading to a certificate of attendance. Other initiatives, such as the Digital Skills initiative offered by MTEESS, and the Basic Digital Skills programme offered by ADEM, House of Training and LLLC, are targeted at specific groups, such as employees or job seekers (Table 2.4).

Among the existing programmes providing basic digital skills in Luxembourg, the ICDL programme is unique in that it leads to a certificate recognised in Europe and beyond. The ICDL programme offers a variety of modules, which are provided in a standardised format and are logically linked, so that individuals can progress from developing basic to more advanced digital skills. Individuals who pass an ICDL module in one country can have it recognised in another country where ICDL programmes are offered. This is particularly relevant in Luxembourg since a large share of the workforce is foreign workers. Another advantage of the ICDL is that all modules are continuously and systematically updated at an international level to keep pace with evolving digital tools. Since 2014, some ICDL basic modules (e.g. computer essentials, online essentials, Word and Excel) have been introduced in some vocational education and training programmes of the Vocational Aptitude Diploma (DAP) and the Technician’s Diploma (DT) preparing for administrative job profiles. The annual number of participants in ICDL has varied between 600-800 participants. In addition to the direct programme participants, many individuals also only take the certification ICDL exams.

Access to digital basic skills programmes could be expanded, especially since 30% of Luxembourg’s adult population, or around 142 000 individuals, are estimated to have low basic digital skills (Figure 2.6). Access could be raised through, for example, integrating ICDL modules (or other equivalent basic digital skills modules) across more formal programmes, such as the DAP and DT, beyond those that lead to administrative job profiles. ICDL modules could also be integrated across other initial education programmes (e.g. general secondary education,9 higher education). MENJE recently launched a lifelong learning centre (Université populaire, UniPop) and is considering offering some ICDL modules, which would further increase access (INFPC, 2021[58]). Similarly, MENJE also launched the Digital Learning Hub, which provides digital CVET courses. The rapid acceleration of digital technologies at home and work during COVID-19 has underscored the importance of equipping all adults with sufficient basic digital skills to not be left behind. In Ireland, the ICDL framework has been mapped onto the National Framework of Qualifications, and participation in ICDL modules leads to certificates demonstrating that individuals have the basic digital skills required to participate in formal programmes (Box 2.5).

At the national level, the Digital Luxembourg Initiative (DLI) provides ongoing support for digital initiatives in Luxembourg (Government of Luxembourg, 2021[60]). The initiative is led by the Luxembourg Ministry of State’s Department of Media, Telecommunications and Digital Policy (SMC) and involves more than 60 public and private sector actors, governmental organisations, the non-governmental organisation (NGO) sector and international businesses. One initiative, in particular, is the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition, which is led by the State Ministry, the CC and the CdM and provides a platform for all private and public sector actors to exchange on digital skills approaches (Government of Luxembourg, 2020[61]). This platform, and through the DLI, best practices in providing basic digital skills training should be further explored.

Luxembourg’s adult learning system needs to be more responsive to the evolving needs of the labour market. Employees require labour-market-relevant adult learning opportunities to acquire the necessary skills to remain productive, progress professionally and increase their salaries. Unemployed individuals require labour-market-relevant adult learning opportunities to improve their employment and career prospects. Furthermore, adult learning opportunities need to be of high quality. While relevance is about providing adult learning opportunities that meet labour market needs, quality is about providing adult learning opportunities in line with clearly defined quality standards. The quality of adult learning matters, so that the resources for adult learning are used as effectively as possible in the provision of adult learning programmes. Quality also matters to create trust in and prestige of the adult learning system, as high-quality adult learning providers build credibility vis-à-vis adult learning participants and contracting organisations (e.g. ADEM contracting training institutions for the unemployed; employers contracting training institutions for the employed) (OECD, 2021[62]).

The relevance of adult learning matters because it allows individuals, employers and society to adapt to the evolving needs of the labour market. In this section, relevance is considered only as it relates to the labour market needs and not to the broader needs of society. While both needs are not always mutually exclusive, the scope here focuses specifically on the labour market, as stakeholders expressed this as a top priority for Luxembourg.

The latest EU Company Survey 2019 shows that existing training offers may not be sufficiently relevant to Luxembourg’s economy. Around 27% of employers in Luxembourg expressed concern that training provided to their employees was of low value in terms of addressing their employees’ skills needs. This share in Luxembourg is higher than France (22%) and the EU average (25%) but lower than Belgium (31%) and Germany (33%) (Figure 2.7). This could be partly due to a high concentration of training in certain subject areas that may not correspond with actual demand. Based on a survey of training providers, the five most common fields of study offered by training providers were personal and professional development (44%); business and human resources (37%); communication and multimedia (26%); health and social work (23%); and IT and telecommunications (20%) (Observatoire de la formation, 2018[63]). Stakeholders in Luxembourg raised concerns that the concentration of programmes in these fields of study is driven more by supply-side than demand-side factors. As discussed in the next section, most training providers are in the private sector, and most are very small. Many of these training providers are former professionals in certain sectors (e.g. consulting, managers) who have started their own businesses offering training related to their fields of expertise and are actively marketing these courses to individuals. These courses may be of interest for individual learners but may not meet the specific demands of employers.

Engaging employers and employees in the decision-making process of designing and providing training programmes is an effective way to ensure greater labour market relevance of adult learning opportunities for employees.

More could be done to engage employers and employees in ensuring the labour market relevance for adult learning opportunities. In Luxembourg, there is currently no systematic way of engaging employers and employees in identifying skills needs. While around 73% of employers in Luxembourg report conducting individual future skill needs exercises, and some skills assessment exercises are conducted at the sectoral level (e.g. crafts, construction and industry) (see Chapter 5), there is no initiative at the national level to engage employers in the identification of skills needs. It would thus be useful to consider introducing a national employer survey (see Recommendation 4.4 in Chapter 5), which could guide adult learning programme design and implementation. The Training Observatory of the INFPC could support such an effort. By way of example, in Estonia, the Co-ordination Council of the System of Labour Market Monitoring and Future Skills Forecasting (Oskuste Arendamise koordinatsioonisüsteem, OSKA) engages both employers and employees, provides skill forecasts using quantitative methods in specific sectors, gathers qualitative insights from a panel of advisers and sectoral councils and proposes actions for both labour market and educational policy (Estonian Ministry of Education and Research, 2021[65]).

Furthermore, employers and employees could be regularly engaged to review adult learning curricula and ensure that they remain relevant based on the latest labour market information. The University of Luxembourg is setting up a regular programme review process, so that all programmes (including initial education and adult learning programmes) would be regularly reviewed at specific intervals, e.g. up to six or seven years. Employers and industry representatives are included in a curriculum review process within the university in several programmes, such as engineering, education and social work. Since employee representatives are not yet included in such processes, it could be beneficial to have them on such boards to provide complementary perspectives to those of employer representatives.

The University of Luxembourg Competence Centre engages employers in reviewing its programme through a follow-up digital questionnaire sent to employers of employees who participated in the programme. The questionnaire asks whether employers have seen any positive changes following employees’ participation in the adult learning programme. The questions follow the Kirkpatrick model,10 which provides a framework for evaluating adult learning.

Across the examples mentioned above, while employer representatives are mostly engaged, employee representatives are seldom engaged. More fully engaging employee representatives would help to ensure the relevance of the training offer from the employee’s perspective, as these representatives can advocate for training that develops general skills, which are important for promoting continuous learning and advancing the careers of employees, but which employers may be hesitant to support due to concerns that doing so could increase the likelihood that employees will leave their jobs (e.g. due to poaching or changing careers).

A regular mapping exercise identifying existing adult learning programmes would be useful to avoid unnecessary duplications when creating new adult learning programmes. A relevant example from Germany that engages both employer and employee representatives in a regular curriculum review could be considered by Luxembourg (Box 2.6). A national quality assurance agency (further discussed in the next section) could establish standards for a rigorous curriculum review process that engages both employers and employees in evaluating adult learning programmes and helps disseminate best practices across sectors.

Besides the engagement of employers and employees at the operational level of adult learning programmes, employers and employees could also be more actively engaged at the strategic level. For example, the role of the University of Luxembourg Competence Centre in providing labour-market-relevant adult learning opportunities could be strengthened by including employers and employee representatives in its governance board. Currently, the Competence Centre’s advisory board engages representatives from employees (Chambre des salariés), employers (Chambre de Commerce), the National Institute of Public Administration (Institut national de l'administration publique, INAP) and ADEM, while the steering committees of the two Competence Centre’s certificate programmes have employer representatives. These two channels can inform the design and review of adult learning programmes, which is important. However, the most critical strategic decisions of the Competence Centre are taken at the governance board (Collège de gérance) level, which currently includes only four representatives from the University of Luxembourg and two representatives from the Ministry of Higher Education and Research, without any representatives of other stakeholders, such as employers and employees. Due to a lack of engagement at the highest level, stakeholders have expressed that they do not feel well informed about the evolving role of the newly created Competence Centre, its long-term strategy and how they can proactively collaborate with the centre. As an alternative option to including employer and employee representatives on the governance board, the advisory board's role could be strengthened, so that it is given greater influence in strategic decisions concerning the programmes the centre should offer.

A noteworthy national practice example of engaging employers and employees in the governance of adult learning provision is the Higher School for Labour (École Supérieure du Travail, EST). The institute is under the supervision of the MTEESS and has a tripartite board of directors with employers and employees equally represented. The institute provides courses for employed workers, self-employed workers and employee representatives in a variety of subject areas, such as economics, taxation, constitutional law, employment law, social security legislation and culture (INFPC, 2021[16]).

It is equally critical to provide labour-market-relevant opportunities for the unemployed. The EU Skills Agenda 2025 emphasises the importance of providing skills development opportunities to the unemployed.

Job seekers registered with ADEM can access six different forms of training the agency offers. The data presented in Figure 2.8 cover the training directly offered by ADEM (ADEM, 2022[68]) together with its partners, and not the training that job seekers can register for at the professional chambers (CC, CdM, CSL) based on a quota or training that is co-funded by ADEM through the provision of financial support (professional training aid) (ADEM, 2022[68]). The share of participants in skills training, which aims to improve certain transversal skills (e.g. digital, soft skills, project management), rose significantly between 2015 (3%) and 2021 (49%) and has become the most common training form. The second most common form of training is job search, which is training that provides job search skills and is attended by about 20% of training participants. The third most common form of training (14%) is integration training, which aims to support the integration in the labour market of specific target groups, such as women, refugees, the young and those with disabilities. The next most common form of training is professional training (9%), which is occupation-specific training. Training aid (5%) is not a training programme but a subsidy that allows the unemployed under certain conditions to be financially supported for a training of their choice. Finally, language training is the least common form (3%).

Analysis of the educational profiles of unemployed individuals participating in different training options shows that the unemployed with lower levels of education are more likely to participate in integration and job search programmes. In contrast, the unemployed with medium and high levels of education are more likely to participate in skills and professional training programmes (Figure 2.9). Unemployed adults, regardless of their education level, are most likely to participate in medium-duration training (one to three months), followed by long-duration training (more than three months) and short-duration training (less than one month).

These training programmes are developed based on the skills requirements in the labour market or are tailored to the needs of specific target groups of job seekers. The public employment service (ADEM) does not provide training programmes itself but works in close collaboration with training partners (e.g. CNFPC, INL, University of Luxembourg Competence Centre, CC, CdM, CSL). Working with these labour market actors ensures that the programmes provided are designed in line with labour market needs and raises the chances that the unemployed successfully transition to employment (INFPC, 2021[10]).

However, as emphasised by stakeholders consulted for this project, certain subgroups of the unemployed are still not receiving the labour-market-relevant adult learning opportunities they need. For example, one important subgroup that is underserved are individuals who need reskilling for a new job (reclassement professionnel) because they are no longer able to perform their previous job due to health reasons, disability or bodily wear and tear, but who are not at the same time eligible for the Invalidity Pension. This group represents about 19% (as of November 2021) of the unemployed and, due to their need to transition to a completely different profession with different skills needs, their required training efforts are high (ADEM, 2021[69]). The nature of their disability may also limit their possible alternative professional options and, hence, their adult learning pathways. Common characteristics of individuals in this group include having lower levels of education, being middle-aged (40-55 years), working in physically demanding occupations (e.g. cleaning, building) and having physical problems (e.g. back, shoulder, knees). There are also subgroups based on language skills with, for example, cross-border workers only speaking one official Luxembourg language (e.g. German or French) or other workers, such as EU/non-EU workers (e.g. Portuguese) and refugees (e.g. Arabic), not speaking any official Luxembourg language.

Individuals in this reclassement professionnel category can benefit from internal professional redeployment within the same company or external professional deployment through measures such as a job reintegration contract (Contrat de réinsertion-emploi) with alternating practical and theoretical training for over 12 months, professional training internships (stage de professionalisation) of between 6-9 weeks or a job assignment in the public sector (Travaux d’utilité publique) of at least 4 months (ADEM, 2021[13]). ADEM has specialised counsellors with a professional background in social work and psychology to support individuals needing professional redeployment. In addition, five doctors at ADEM can examine individuals to assess their physical capacities and inform the counsellors about their clients’ potential future job opportunities.

In the latest available national data, the share of long-term unemployed among the unemployed in Luxembourg (resident job-seekers) is 52% (as of November 2021) (ADEM, 2021[70]). One of the challenges in addressing the needs of the long-term unemployed is their varying needs. For example, the long-term unemployed are quite diverse, differing in characteristics such as age, ethnic minority status, gender and parental status (e.g. single parent). Some long-term unemployed also have criminal status. When individuals who need reskilling for a new job (reclassement professionnel) are more than 12 months unemployed, they would also be categorised as long-term unemployed.

While ADEM-OP (Service d’orientation professionnelle de l’ADEM) offers a range of training guidance, apprenticeship guidance and career guidance options, it still relies heavily on other actors to provide specialised services for the substantive needs of the unemployed in need of professional redeployment (reclassement professionnel) as well as to meet the diverse needs of the long-term unemployed. Two important skills needed for these two unemployed groups are language (i.e. official languages in Luxembourg, which are Luxembourgish, French and German) and basic digital skills, which are also essential skills to access most other training programmes.

One challenge is that the available training supply is still insufficient to meet the high demand. ADEM could expand its work with the INL to explore ways to increase the language provision capacity, which currently is constrained due to a limited number of classrooms and teachers. INL, which as a public language teaching centre follows a fixed timetable (e.g. not open during school holidays) and has a set number of teachers on permanent contracts, cannot easily expand course offerings to meet a sudden rise in demand. Thus, ADEM may consider developing additional partnerships with other private language providers to meet a sudden demand increase. Regarding basic digital skills, there is currently a pilot basic digital skills training programme being implemented together with the CSL. Insights gained from this pilot experience will need to be considered to provide a large-scale basic digital skills programme.

Another key challenge for ADEM is identifying quality training providers who can deliver relevant and tailored training to meet the needs of different groups. Introducing a quality label given to training providers that meet specified quality standards (see Recommendation 1.8.) could make it easier for ADEM to identify quality training providers. To improve the relevance of training provision, ADEM could consider asking training providers to offer their training in shorter modules that can be tailored to the specific needs of target groups. Currently, most unemployed participate in long (two-to-three month) training programmes with relatively large numbers of participants. This makes it challenging to tailor the training offer to the diverse needs of smaller subgroups among the unemployed. A modular approach would make it possible to offer, for example, different modules of basic digital skills courses tailored to specific subgroups of participants (e.g. subgroups with different language backgrounds receiving training in their own language). To provide more comprehensive support to the unemployed, ADEM could also work with other actors providing complementary services. A common approach across countries has been for the public employment service to co-operate with a wide range of actors (e.g. social welfare services, disability services, integration services) to outsource specialised services, such as developing individual action plans and providing mentoring, coaching and counselling that complement the training offers. Since these actors are often mission-based organisations working with particular subgroups, they are best placed to reach out to these groups. By way of example, the Finnish Training for Unemployed Migrants, through a public-private partnership, organises training in language and life skills, facilitates internship placements and provides individual coaching (Box 2.7) (Bertelsmann Stiftung, 2016[71]).

Quality in this context is defined as “the planning and development of formal activities and managerial processes in an attempt to achieve the desired objectives” of adult learning (OECD, 2021[73]). When quality standards are met, resources are effectively used to implement adult learning programmes. OECD countries have different quality assurance approaches that can broadly be divided into regulatory, advisory, and organic approaches. In the regulatory approach, the state plays an important role in imposing minimum quality standards that need to be met to become an adult learning provider or access funds for implementing programmes. In the advisory approach, guidelines and examples of good practices are provided to guide providers in implementing quality measures. Finally, in the organic approach, providers must define their own quality needs (OECD, 2021[62]). In Luxembourg, there is a mix of the three approaches, as further explored in this section.

The need for quality assurance in adult learning in Luxembourg is due to the minimally regulated adult learning market. It is relatively easy to start a training business if certain requirements are met (discussed further below). This has led to the proliferation of training providers with limited oversight. Around 78% of training providers are private, and around 73% comprise a single trainer or between one to four employees (Figure 2.10).

In Luxembourg, the Ministry of the Economy provides, after consultation with MENJE, official accreditation status to training providers. Initially, an application process to become a training provider must be sent to the Ministry of Economy (INFPC, 2021[10]). In the application, the applicant must demonstrate that he or she has “vocational worthiness” and “vocational credentials”. The “vocational worthiness” test or “fit for business” requirement means that the director of the training provider has in the past ten years not had any incidences of forging documents, failing to comply with legal provisions, failing to keep proper accounts, having any serious and recurring convictions due to business activities, and having any large amounts of debt. The “vocational credentials” can be proven by either having a higher education qualification (e.g. university diploma) or a certain number of years (between two to three years) of professional experience in a company at the management level or as a solopreneur. Individuals with at least three years of work experience as an employee, who have undergone relevant training, and who received a certificate from MENJE also fulfil the “vocational credentials” criteria.

Foreign training providers can also receive accreditation to provide training in Luxembourg if they have received accreditation in their country of origin. For foreign training providers to offer training in Luxembourg, they must comply with the same requirements as training providers based in Luxembourg.

In 2021, 101 individuals applied to the Ministry of Economy for accreditation as training providers. Among the applicants, 78% applied on behalf of a training company, while 22% applied on behalf of his or herself as a self-employed training provider. In addition, 41 registered training providers cancelled their accreditation, which occurs when they are no longer in business (Ministry of Economy, 2021[75]).

Stakeholders consulted in Luxembourg noted that ensuring quality was an important objective, and many raised concerns that the current process was too minimalistic. There are, for example, no common quality standards, requirements pertaining to the pedagogical expertise of training staff, or requirements concerning how to develop and implement the curricula of adult learning programmes.

Concerns about the quality of adult learning provision have been longstanding in Luxembourg. In the Luxembourg 2012 Lifelong Learning Strategy, quality assurance was mentioned as a key issue, but since the development of the strategy, no concrete actions have been taken. The need to ensure quality was also mentioned in the recent Coalition Agreement 2018-2023 (Accord de Coalition). Stakeholders in Luxembourg notably underscored that Luxembourg lacks a national accreditation agency and thus must rely on foreign accreditation partners, such as the Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO).

Stakeholders consulted in Luxembourg stressed the need for a clear vision and a roadmap for achieving quality in adult learning programmes. The vision and the roadmap should clearly identify the goals of quality, the responsible actors and the necessary actions. The process of creating such a vision and roadmap could be led by MENJE and involve all relevant actors from other ministries, employer, and employee representatives, among others.

Another potential avenue to assure quality in practice is to create a national quality assurance agency. Responsibilities would include the accreditation of new adult learning programmes and the regular evaluation of already accredited programmes. Other responsibilities of such an agency would include identifying priority areas for training and allocating funds (e.g. a co-financing scheme; see Chapter 3) to finance training programmes. Relevant international and national experts would support the agency's work to implement quality assurance services for adult learning programmes.

The idea of a national quality assurance agency has been discussed for many years in Luxembourg and is most recently featured in Luxembourg’s Plan for Recovery and Resilience (Ministry of Finance, 2021[5]). For quality assurance of adult learning programmes at the higher education level, the existing partnership between MESR and the Dutch/Flemish quality assurance agency NVAO should be considered since they are collaborating to establish quality assurance at the higher education level in Luxembourg (Ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche, 2022[76]).

In collaboration with relevant actors, the national quality assurance agency could develop and set minimum quality standards for adult learning programmes, which could then be implemented and monitored by the same agency. Stakeholders have proposed to have an independent body oversee the agency so that the relevant perspectives of employers, employees, the state and private training providers are all sufficiently represented in the agency.

The national quality assurance agency could also introduce a quality label for adult learning providers. Quality labels are a formal recognition by an external body that the training providers meet certain minimum quality requirements. Example criteria for receiving quality labels could, for example, include having adult learning staff with andragogical expertise, providing professional development opportunities for adult learning staff, and having a process in place to regularly monitor quality, among others. These types of criteria exist in the French Qualiopi label (Box 2.8), which has already been adopted voluntarily by some private training providers in Luxembourg and could be further promoted. The broad uptake of such a quality label by training providers could be incentivised financially by making possessing a quality label a prerequisite for accessing more public funding (e.g. co-financing scheme for adult learning programmes). Like the French Qualiopi label, a quality label in Luxembourg could be valid only for a limited duration, which would have to be renewed every three years through an on-site audit.

While a quality assurance agency would provide external incentives for providers to adhere to minimum quality standards, a quality label would provide internal incentives allowing training providers to differentiate themselves from the competition. In the current context, with such a diversity of adult learning providers and the lack of a quality label, it is challenging for individuals to identify adult learning programmes that are of the highest quality. It is also challenging for employers and public sector actors to identify adult learning programmes that would be most worthwhile to financially support. Introducing quality labels would provide a clear signal in the adult learning market and make the allocation of resources more efficient (OECD, 2021[62]).

If the capacity of the national quality assurance agency in Luxembourg is not sufficient to certify all training providers, the certification task could also be outsourced to accredited private certification bodies, as long as they apply the same criteria in the evaluation. A potential benefit of involving private certification bodies is that such bodies could specialise in specific adult learning programmes by sector, which may be more difficult to achieve by a national quality assurance agency. To ensure that the private certification bodies apply consistent criteria in certifying training providers with the Qualiopi label, in France, the French Accreditation Committee accredits these private certification bodies. Luxembourg could work with such private certification bodies to implement the Qualiopi label.

Besides establishing a quality assurance agency, the quality of adult learning programmes could be raised by providing training providers with the necessary support to improve the skills of their staff. The quality of adult learning programmes depends to a great extent on measures that ensure the quality of the skills of those who provide adult learning. However, implementing measures to raise instruction quality is challenging for a significant share of adult learning providers. In particular, private adult learning providers, who comprise about 78% of providers, report implementing fewer measures to ensure quality (Figure 2.11). For example, many small private providers lack robust processes for hiring, evaluating and training staff.

Adult learning providers face numerous challenges in implementing quality assurance measures. Among the main reasons adult learning providers give for not implementing quality assurance measures are a lack of time, a lack of human resources, difficulty in estimating the value added of such measures, a lack of financial resources and such measures not being a high priority (Figure 2.12). This suggests that additional support may be required to encourage training providers to take steps to ensure the quality of their adult learning programmes. For example, the quality assurance agency could provide regular training sessions for adult learning staff to further develop their teaching skills. Such training sessions would be particularly beneficial for self-employed trainers and small training providers since they lack the human and financial resources to organise such training themselves.

In Luxembourg, there are no regulations in place governing how private adult learning providers hire or manage and train their teaching staff. As mentioned above, self-employed trainers only have to demonstrate that they are “fit for business” and have an education qualification; they have only to fulfil these two requirements and are not required to demonstrate any teaching expertise. Training providers can decide for themselves how they hire, manage and train their teaching staff.

Other countries have taken a different approach and have established specific minimum qualifications and training requirements for adult learning staff (Table 2.5). For example, in Slovenia, adult learning teaching staff are required to have a university degree in the field they teach and pass a relevant professional examination. In addition, adult learning teaching staff receive at least 5 days of training per year or 15 days of training over 3 years. In Finland, adult learning teaching staff need to fulfil the same qualification requirements as initial education teachers. Specifically, they must possess a degree in the subject area they teach and accumulate 1 400 hours in studies related to teaching competence. Furthermore, Finnish adult learning staff participate in continuous professional development training for 9-15 days per year.

Luxembourg could consider introducing requirements and support mechanisms for improving the skills of adult learning teaching staff. For example, individuals who want to become adult learning staff should be required to fulfil certain criteria that relate to the specific teaching and training role they are to fulfil. Currently, many of the trainers active in Luxembourg apply for French (The French Association for Standardisation (Association française de normalisation, AFNOR) or international (e.g. International Organization for Standardization, ISO) teaching certificates to distinguish themselves in the training labour market.

Like other countries, Luxembourg could develop a tailored certificate for adult learning teaching staff in Luxembourg. The possession of the certificate from Luxembourg could be made mandatory to teach and train. Furthermore, the maintenance of the certificate could be tied to regular participation in “train-the-trainer” courses. Currently, the University of Luxembourg offers a “train-the-teacher” course, but it is only available for internal staff. The House of Training also has a five-day train-the-trainer course, which some stakeholders consider too long, particularly for trainers who provide a relatively limited number of training hours per year (e.g. 20 hours). MENJE is thus considering developing a shorter train-the-trainer course of one or two days, which could be made mandatory for any trainers that provide more than 20 hours of training per year.

As in Luxembourg, Switzerland experienced an increase in the number of adult learning teachers, many of whom were working part-time and did not possess relevant professional expertise. In response to this challenge, the Swiss Federation for Adult Learning (SVEBB) introduced a structured train-the-trainer (AdA) programme that has three levels (Level 1: Professional Practice Trainer Certificate; Level 2: Federal Training Diploma; and Level 3: Advanced Federal Training Manager Diploma) (Swiss System in Higher Education for Adult Learning, 2021[79]) and ensures that adult learning teaching staff have the required teaching skills (Box 2.9).

Luxembourg could explore the option of establishing a designated institute (e.g. IFEN) to offer training and professional development opportunities to adult learning staff. Attendance in such courses could be made a requirement for maintaining adult learning teaching certificates, like how professional development attendance is mandatory for teachers in initial education. In Slovenia, the Institute for Adult Education provides training and peer learning opportunities to adult learning staff, which could be relevant for Luxembourg to consider (Box 2.9).

Providing labour-market-relevant adult learning opportunities is critical for individuals, firms and society in Luxembourg to adapt and thrive in a world of changing and rising skills demands. Two opportunities have been selected, indicating where the provision of labour-market-relevant adult learning opportunities can be strengthened:

  1. 1. improving the coherence and accessibility of adult learning opportunities

  2. 2. increasing the relevance and ensuring the quality of adult learning opportunities.

This chapter presented eight recommendations to seize these opportunities in adult learning provision. A high-level overview of the recommendations can be found in Table 2.6. This selection is based on input from a literature review, desk research, discussions with the Luxembourg National Project Team and broad engagement with a large variety of stakeholders, including two workshops in Luxembourg and various related meetings and group discussions.

Two recommendations have been selected that should be considered to have the highest priority based on potential impact, relevance in the current context in Luxembourg and the overall support for implementation. To strengthen the provision of labour-market-relevant adult learning opportunities, the OECD recommends that Luxembourg should:

  • Develop a forward-looking strategy for adult learning in Luxembourg with all relevant actors (Recommendation 1.1)

  • Establish an adult learning quality assurance system (Recommendation 1.7).


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← 1. Adult Education Survey indicator measuring adult learning participation rate in the past year.

← 2. SCRIPT is an agency under MENJE that provides research-based input into the design of education policy.

← 3. In some cases, the approved school can also be in countries outside the Greater Region.

← 4. The website https://frontaliers-grandest.eu/ provides some information, but only for cross-border workers Germany-Luxembourg and not France-Luxembourg or Belgium-Luxembourg.

← 5. The underlying Labour Force Survey data only includes Luxembourg residents.

← 6. ECTS credits represent learning outcomes and the associated workload for an education programme. The ECTS makes it possible for credits taken at one institution to be counted towards a qualification studied at another. In practice, 1 ECTS credit corresponds to 25-30 hours of work. A full-time academic year would typically correspond to 60 ECTS credits.

← 7. The levels are as follows: 1-2: General basic knowledge; 3-5: Professional mastery; 6: Bachelor level; 7: Master level; and 8: Doctorate level. The crafts sector uses the European Qualification Framework rather than Luxembourg Qualification Framework (CLQ).

← 8. Basic digital skills are measured as having used the Internet in the past three months to source information, communicate, create content and/or solve problems (EC Community Survey on ICT Usage in Households and by Individuals).

← 9. Since 2018, MENJE (through the resource administration of MENJE (Centre de gestion informatique de l’éducation, CGIE)) provides iPads for students for educational purposes.

← 10. The Kirkpatrick model has four levels for evaluating adult learning programmes. These levels include: Level 1 (reaction), measures whether learners find the learning engaging and relevant; Level 2 (learning) measures whether learners acquire certain knowledge, skills, and attitudes; Level 3 (behaviour) measures whether learners are applying what they are learning; Level 4 (results) measures whether learners have an impact on business outcomes, such as sales, workplace accidents and productivity.

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