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Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe



New Community of Practice for Upskilling Pathways

by Karine Nicolay
Language: EN
Document available also in: DE FR DA IT

EPALE has started a new community of practice to gather examples of good practice from around the EU to inspire all the different organisations in member states who will play a part in putting in place the Upskilling Pathways. 

To join the community, please first register to EPALE and then start sharing your or your organisation's best practice examples


picture Karine Nicolay, moderator of the community

Karine Nicolay will be moderating this group.

If you have any difficulty with contributing to this group, please ask her help at


Karine Nicolay is EPALE coordinator for the Flemish Community in Belgium.




Close to 70 million Europeans lack basic reading and writing skills. Even more cannot use numbers or digital tools properly in everyday life. Without these skills they are at high risk of unemployment, poverty and social exclusion.

In the New Skills Agenda for Europe, the European Commission therefore proposed that Member States should tackle this. The result is the initiative 'Upskilling Pathways, New Opportunities for Adults'. This aims to help adults with low levels of skill to acquire a minimum level of literacy, numeracy and digital skills and/or progress towards an upper secondary qualification or equivalent (EQF level 3 or 4 according to the country), through three steps:

•           Step 1 – Skills assessment

An individual assessment of skills to enable low-qualified adults to identify their existing skills and their upskilling needs.

•           Step 2 – Learning offer

An offer of education and training tailored to the specific needs of each individual (as identified by the skills assessment) and the needs of the labour market.

•           Step 3 – Validation and recognition

Validation and recognition of the skills acquired. 

Who are the Upskilling Pathways for?

Upskilling Pathways targets individuals without upper secondary education (who are not eligible for support under the Youth Guarantee). They might be unemployed but might also be in employment or economically inactive with a need to strengthen basic skills. Each Member State will decide which specific groups should be a priority.

How will it work?

Member States should put in place flexible pathways for upskilling in cooperation with social partners, education and training providers, and local and regional authorities. Systems need to build on national structures and will therefore vary between Member States. Many countries already offer elements of the Upskilling Pathways (such as skills assessments, or validation of informal learning) and can build on these.

To implement the initiative, Member States can make use of financial support provided through the ESF, EaSi, ERDF, FEAD, EGF or EAFRD. The Erasmus+ programme can also assist.

The key tasks to be undertaken in establishing the Upskilling Pathways include reaching out to, engaging, guiding and supporting individuals as they progress on their upskilling pathways.

Many different partner organisations could be involved in working together to deliver the Upskilling Pathways, through a coordinated partnership approach. These could include public, private and third sector organisations working in the fields of education, training and employment, but also social and cultural policy and provision.

For example, employer organisations, employers, trade unions, chambers of industry, trade, commerce and crafts, education and training providers, sectoral organisations, civil society organisations, local and regional economic actors, libraries, and community services could all have information or good practice to share. 

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  • Anna Gabai's picture

    Hello Everyone!

    I would like to better understand what does "Upskilling Pathways" for our institutions mean.

    Do we have to send project ideas to the EU through the NAs?

    Do we have to apply to the NAs as soon as the Program begins?

    Thank you!


  • Anna Gabai's picture


  • Paul HOLDSWORTH's picture

    I think a key idea here is that learner autonomy is a basic principle of adult education / adult learning: the learner should be in control of his/her learning pathway, deciding what s/he needs to learn and taking responsibility for achieving it. Some of that learning may be for work purposes (in which case the employer's HR team may be involved); some of it will be for other purposes.

    The rationale behind the Upskilling Pathways initiative is to provide a structure (pathway) that helps adults who have missed out on a part of their basic education (e.g. they have not completed an upper secondary qualification) to get back on track - to improve their basic skills, and maybe go even further, if they wish, and achieve a full qualification. The choice is up to them.


  • Claudio Laferla's picture

    I would like to take this subject in a slightly different direction, and I would like to pose a question in this regard.

    Does 'upskilling' depend solely on the person him/herself? What I mean to say is: Do the HR people have an intrinsic responsibility in this aspect of upskilling, in the way they understand training and or 'continuing professional development'?

    Whilst it is definitely a good wayforward to provide upskilling to the various labourers whether those who already work or those who need to get a job.

    The bone of contention is the following: If HR just view upskilling only in view of the work performed by the employee (at the designated workplace), then, we risk that the need to upskill becomes wider than expected!

    My theorem is the following: HR should look at  upskilling also in view of the 'continuing professional development' as well as that particular area in which the labourer is competent in. This will avoid the drastic intervention of also upskilling those people who, whilst working, they still have not been helped to their CPD.