Lifelong Learning Is the key to transitioning at any age, exchanging the security of the parental home for the demands of formal education and subsequently, beyond employment and bridging the generation gap to retirement and eventually, loss of independence

In the words of UNESCO’s Institute for

Lifelong Learning ...

‘Lifelong learning lays the foundation for sustainable social, economic and environmental development. The idea of learning throughout life is deeply rooted in all cultures. However, it is becoming increasingly relevant in today’s fast changing world, where social, economic and political norms are constantly being redefined.
Studies have shown that lifelong learners … citizens who acquire new knowledge, skills and attitudes in a wide range of contexts … are better equipped to adapt to changes in their environments. Lifelong learning and the learning society therefore have a vital role to play in empowering citizens and effecting their transition to sustainable societies.

While national governments are largely responsible for creating strategies for building learning societies, lasting change requires commitment at the local and personal level.’

So, what is commitment to lifelong learning ‘at a local and personal level’ …

Local government needs to play its part but it is those organizations who are constantly learning and taking account of that learning to innovate and change their working practices that gain the competitive advantage of market leaders. However, they cannot work alone and it is the committed lifetime learner, those who constantly use their learning to create change in their habits and behaviours that become the success stories, the signposts and the role models.

The Institute is the creator and manager of the
Learning Cities program with more than 60 cities
participating in a global policy-oriented network that
shares common goals, inspiration, know-how and
best practice.
A Learning City must promote and action lifelong
learning for all its citizens.
The UK’s Learning Cities are Belfast, Bristol and


UNESCO defines a Learning City as a city that:

  • Mobilizes resources in every sector to promote
    inclusive learning from basic to higher education
  • Revitalizes learning in families and communities
  • Facilitates learning for and in the workplace
  • Extends the use of modern learning technologies
  • Enhances quality and excellence in learning
  • Fosters a culture of learning throughout life

Lifelong Learning ...

  • Our Learning Journey begins at birth with the
    nurturing that we gain from total dependence on the
    support and security of our family environment.
  • As we grow we have the freedom to explore and
    experiment under the tutelage of parental and family
    role models who may be learning too but intervene in
    our activity to instil values and alert us to danger;
  • Gradually we learn to build relationships and acquire
    the resourcefulness, persistence and resilience that
    will come to underpin our Learning Power


  • Formal education introduces a further set of role
    models … teachers, our peers, those we come across
    day to day
  • We begin to challenge and to experiment;
  • At school our learning becomes more structured, is
    more demanding and is goal and reward-driven.


  • Transitioning from structured learning to selfdirection brings the freedom of choice
  • As trainees, apprentices, new graduates and
    employees, learning habits and behaviours have to
    change. We are in charge.
  • We will succeed or fail depending on our response to
    instruction and observation.


  • Increasingly employers will have little alternative but
    to include ‘learning’ among their strategic
    imperatives and each employee will have to maintain
    their marketability for all 50 years of their working
  • Learning Power is therefore the key to improving
    employee and workforce performance and underpins
    sustained employee lifetime value.


  • Despite having to remain in employment until we
    reach our 70s, our roles and responsibilities within
    both family and society will have changed
  • Our children have children of their own and are no
    longer in the front line of parenting … we have a
    choice as to the role we play.
  • With retirement comes one of life’s steepest learning
    curves with occupations and time management
    entirely in our own hands.


  • Finally, whilst the majority of us resist it for as long as
    possible, we shall eventually have to come to terms
    with the loss of our independence and learn to put
    our trust and care into the hands of others;
  • We must learn to build relationships with those
    whom we have not previously known and allow them
    to invade our privacy
  • Learning Power becomes the secret to maintaining a
    quality of life.