Social Democrats, Sweden

The four biggest names for the Swedish labour party, Socialdemokraterna, in the running for the European parliament, are Marita Ulvskog, Olle Ludvigsson, Jens Nilsson and Anna Hedh. Here, they collectively provide some thoughts and answers on the upcoming election.

1. How do you view Adult Education and non-formal education in the strategy towards a progressive future for Europe?

We want a society where new opportunities for growth are present all throughout life – where people’s potential are utilised and recognised. We believe this to be a prerequisite for a well-functioning, dynamic welfare society – for Sweden as well as for Europe as a whole. Just as it should be a given that everyone gets a good start in life, with a proper and adequate education, we believe that it is equally essential that adults can further grow and enrich themselves through different forms of education, later in life. We believe that Adult Education is an essential tool for facing the challenges we see ahead – indeed, just as important as formal education.

2. Could you elaborate a bit on the importance of Adult Education?

Education is not something that you go through at a young age and then you’re set for life. Companies and organisations need competent co-workers that develop their skills continuously. Adult Education provides vital opportunities for people to gain new skills and find new ways onto the labour market. Facing vast and seemingly preserving unemployment issues across Europe, investing in schools and education is vital.

3. What are you prepared to do to strengthen Adult Education on the European Level?

One way to strengthen the position of Adult Education on the European Level is to create a better system for skills evaluation. With increased mobility, people are moving within Europe in greater capacity than before. It is therefore important to strengthen our ability to make the most of the skills and potential that new citizens bring when moving from one EU-country to another. With a more unified system for validation, we can make it easier for people to utilise their skills across the union.

Also, the new Erasmus program – Erasmus+ – is testament that we’re moving in the right direction. By providing support for different kinds of education (former, higher, vocational, non-formal and so on), and with a focus on increasing quality in education and learning through international exchanges, people are being given greater possibilities for growth and exchange of ideas and experiences. Erasmus+ is a good program, on the European level, that we will continues to support and prioritise.

4. Recent PIAAC results show that one fourth of the population between the age of 16 and 64 lack the education needed to be viewed as “employable”. Going from that, what kind of goals should the EU aim for when it comes to Adult Education, moving forward?

One of the EU-goals for Adult Education should be to improve the individual’s skills and knowledge in order to facilitate employability. At the same time, it is important that employability is not the only goal linked to education – it is also important to strengthen individuals on a personal level and to provide other tools that we all need in life. One overarching goal should therefore be to pander education that is inclusive, that aims to develop sustainable systems for lifelong learning – with plenty opportunities for new skills, throughout life. This includes learning while at work, intergenerational learning and non-formal and informal adult learning – something to suit your needs wherever you might be, in life.

With that said, we believe that a prerequisite for Adult Education – just as for any kind of supplementary education – is a strengthened cooperation between educators and workplaces, meaning companies, organisations and so on. Through better coherence with industries, we can enhance the possibility of choosing the right education – that leads to employment. We think there’s great room for improvement, when it comes to this.

5. In the post-2015 strategy, education is but one of many items. We think that education is the basis for a more sustainable, equal, growth-driven and democratic Europe. Do you agree that education must be the consistent thread, tying all future strategies together?

We agree that education is important for future development, and for increasing awareness on matters like equality, sustainability and democracy – and that it should be a key component in all strategies. Education is a vital tool when fighting poverty and inequality, something that we social democrats are always labouring for, and hoping that others follow.