The emergence of the global knowledge economy has put a premium on learning. Ideas and know-how as a source of economic growth and development, along with the application of new technologies, have important implications for how people learn and apply knowledge throughout their lives. Opportunities for learning throughout one’s lifetime are critical for countries to compete in the global knowledge economy.
Lifelong learning is education for the knowledge economy. A lifelong learning framework encompasses learning throughout the life cycle, from early childhood to retirement. Within this framework, one needs to talk less about formal education structures and much more about learning, whether it takes place in schools, communities or the workplace. Increasingly, people need new skills such as team working and problem solving. The learning system needs to bring in a multitude of players, including the learner, the family, the employer, the provider and the state.
Learning opportunities over a lifetime require increased expenditures, although resources need to be used efficiently. Policymakers need to consider a range of financing options, including subsidies, income-contingent repayment schemes, entitlement schemes and individual learning accounts. Whatever mechanisms are used, financing of learning beyond the basic competencies should include both cost-sharing and subsidy components.