EU's Innovative Individual Learning Accounts: A Policy Update
In 2022, the Council of the European Union introduced a transformative initiative – Individual Learning Accounts (ILAs). This Council Recommendation, adopted in June 2022, aims to empower all adults to continuously develop their skills throughout their working lives, regardless of their employment status. These digital wallets address three common training barriers: motivation, time, and funding.
Access to Training: Individual Learning Accounts help working-age adults gain access to a wide range of training opportunities.
Increase motivation: They encourage people to seek training by allowing them to accumulate and choose when and how to spend their training entitlements, whether on short courses or longer programmes.
Reduce time constraints: The Council Recommendation calls upon Member States to review their legislation to encourage paid training leave.
The initiative is in line with the EU's goal of having at least 60% of all adults participate in training each year by 2030.
Who Benefits? These accounts should be designed for all adults of working age, whether they are employed, unemployed, self-employed, or economically inactive. Member States can tailor the implementation to meet their specific needs.
How it Works: Member States are encouraged to develop a framework that can provide both financial and non-financial support. Every working-age adult would have a personal account with training entitlements and access to a training opportunities registry. An enabling framework should be in place to support the use of individual budgets: Built-in guidance and counselling, alongside transparent and clear information about available training courses and validation opportunities. All of this information should be presented in a single website, with the users at the centre, so that they can make informed decisions about their training options.
EU Support for the implementation of ILAs
Through a Mutual Learning Programme, the EU actively supports the implementation of Individual Learning Accounts. Six Member States (BG, FR, HR, IT, PL, RO) are participating in capacity-building events/workshops and developing strategic implementation roadmaps in 2023. Representatives from relevant ministries lead each country delegation, which also includes representatives from social partners and key stakeholders in the field. Delegations collaborate at the national level between meetings and are supported by an independent country expert. More Member States will be able to participate in the programme beginning in 2024.
Additionally, Member States can submit projects related to Individual Learning Accounts through the Technical Support Instrument (TSI), managed by the European Commission's Directorate for Structural Reform Support (DG REFORM).
Case studies: Croatia and Poland
Croatia and Poland are part of the mutual learning programme in 2023.
As a temporary measure, a voucher system was implemented in Croatia in April 2022. This aims to increase adult learning, with a focus on digital and green skills, to adapt to technological and economic changes and improve workforce competitiveness. The goal is to have 30,000 users by 2026. The skills catalogue, developed in collaboration with employers, includes 655 green skills and 1911 digital skills, all of which are linked to the Croatian National Qualifications Framework. Currently, 116 educational institutions offer 620 programmes (402 digital, 218 green skills). The next step is to switch to Individual Learning Accounts (ILAs).
In Poland, a dedicated Working Group on the development of skills relevant to the labour market was established in May 2023, chaired by the Ministry of Family and Social Policy. The ILA pilot is to be implemented within the framework of the European Social Fund Plus for the period 2021-2027. The final model for financing ILA schemes and attracting participation in ILA in Poland is still being developed.
Both representatives said that the mutual learning programme had been beneficial to their respective countries. They recommend it to other countries because they learned a lot from the international exchanges, and it helped them in developing a national implementation roadmap and consulting their stakeholders on a regular basis.
The Council Recommendation on Individual Learning Accounts is a significant step towards a more skilled and adaptable workforce in the European Union. It promotes continuous learning for all, breaking down barriers and making lifelong learning a reality. As the world changes, initiatives like this one will help individuals thrive and societies prosper.
The Adult Learning Working Group promotes mutual learning through technical exchanges and contributions to help countries implement the actions of the 2020 Skills Agenda and other adult learning policy initiatives. The Working Group improves members' understanding of how to respond to challenges in the field of adult skills and allows for a more effective exchange of knowledge and experiences between countries.
- Publication date
- 21 November 2023
- Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion