In  November  2015,  the  Directorate  General  Education  and  Culture  of  the  European Commission  launched  a  Survey  to  find  out  from organisations  working  in  school education,  VET  (vocational  education  and  training)  and  adult  learning,  which  challenges the refugees and migrants are currently facing, and asked them to share ideas and good practices to meet these challenges. The research results pointed out that the migrant inclusion should be supported via adult education and training, covering a range of issues such as language learning; intercultural learning (both for refugees and for the European society); acquisition of skills; integration in education and training institutions, labour market and society; recognition of skills & competences; career guidance / entrepreneurship; personal / psychological / general support and teachers training.

​On the other hand, responding to the migrant flows and the needs for more highly educated and skilled workforce and increased social competitiveness, the growing demand for lifelong learning in Europe brought changes to the existing inclusive policies in most EU countries: broadening the learning age and considering adults as people who were willing to learn and as people who were actually in need of further education; a  changing the scope of adult education so as to provide to adult learners job related learning opportunities. 

Adult Education for Migrants:

what`s special about it?

The European Commission defines education at all levels is a key part of the integration process for migrants (1). Two areas of particular importance are language learning and adult learning.

"Adult learning is crucial for migrants as they may require different skills from those that they used in their countries of origin for their new careers. It can also help equip people working with migrants with intercultural awareness and competences, easing the integration process for everyone involved."


1 https://ec.europa.eu/education/policy/migration/adult-languages_en

The growing number of migrants and refugees coming to Europe sparks an urgent discussion over what educational response is necessary to mitigate the crisis. The large influx of people to Europe's shores brings the challenge of integrating multitudes of people into a new environment. 

“An emerging challenge will be the integration of the many new refugees who will remain in European host countries,” said Angel Gurria, OECD Secretary-General. Therefore, the new wave of migrants and refugees has been subject to the same concern – how can we support migrant inclusion in Europe and what role does adult education play?


adult education plays a critical role in building the human capital of immigrants who have limited host-country language proficiency, as well as for those who lack a high school diploma or equivalent. Adult education also has the potential to serve as an on-ramp to post-secondary education and jobs, paying a family-sustaining wage. Against the backdrop of great need for adult education and language programs are issues of capacity and replication of successful models.

European researchers have emphasised that adult learning takes many forms and can play a role at a number of levels in helping migrant settle and integrate into their new country; it brings together people from different backgrounds and thus increases understanding and cultivates tolerance.  Generally, the task of adult education in this context is seen as focused on the help to create supportive environments for inclusion of migrants in the host communities in Europe; also  supporting them in developing and adapting their skills for the European labour market.

On the other hand, as stressed by the EUCIS-LL (the European Platform on Lifelong Learning), adult education provides a substantial contribution to personal development, social inclusion, active citizenship and many more. 

With 137 member organisations in 44 countries, he European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA) provides a voice, particularly for groups currently under-represented, stressing that adult education plays an important role for both the migrants, and the host countries. EAEA believes that adult education is one of the most effective tools to foster tolerance and counter stereotypes, and it should not only be looked at through the lens of growth and jobs. 


In order to ensure that the European adult education has the necessary capability to act as key in welcoming and integrating migrants, we need experienced and highly skilled educators and administrative staff. 

The current migrant crisis highlights the need for careful thought about how to design, implement and manage adult educational practices and approaches for migrant integration, approaching the problem with compassion and understanding.