Digital Lifelong Learning: How can we future-proof all generations?

Digital skills are an important part of the future (sustainable) economy (BMWi 2016). Many companies have recognised this and are willing to invest in the necessary adjustments. A lack of skilled workers is often cited as an obstacle to a transformation towards more digitalisation (Bitkom 2021). However, this is not only about a lack of employees, but also about unsuitable or outdated skills of current workers. For this reason, continuing education and lifelong learning are central instruments for securing prosperity. While large companies increasingly rely on digital training, small companies, which provide work for a large part of the German workforce, are falling behind (Seyda 2021). In addition, older workers participate less frequently in continuing education than younger workers (Statistisches Bundesamt, 2021).

How can digital lifelong learning be designed so that it reaches all generations in the workplace and everyone can benefit from it? What hurdles need to be overcome? What solutions are there?

Up to now, the different phases of life (school, apprenticeship, study, further vocational training) have mostly been considered separately. In addition, “top down” approaches, i.e., approaches thought up or implemented by teachers, supervisors or the like, have often been pursued. The realities of the students’ lives may offer a fresh perspective on the topic, e.g., when it comes to ideas on intergenerational or informal (i.e., not externally structured) learning. In addition, a reference to the regional (economic and business) structure might be interesting.

Bitkom (2021). Corona führt zu Digitalisierungsschub in der deutschen Industrie, [30.09.2021]

BMWi (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie, 2016). Digitale Bildung. Der Schlüssel zu einer Welt im Wandel, [30.09.2021]

Statistisches Bundesamt (2021). 3. Bildung, in: Datenreport 2021 – Ein Sozialbericht für die Bundesrepublik Deutschland, [30.09.2021]

Seyda, S. (2021). Digitale Lernmedien beflügeln die betriebliche Weiterbildung: Ergebnisse der zehnten IW-Weiterbildungserhebung, IW-TRENDS 48(1), S. 79-94. [30.09.2021]

Must-Read – the team should read this before the kick-off meeting: 

Hammermann, A., Stettes, O. (2016), Qualifikationsbedarf und Qualifizierung: Anforderungen im Zeichen der Digitalisierung, IW Policy Paper, No. 3/2016. [30.09.2021]

Additional Literature (in German):
Eine übersichtliche Bestandsaufnahme mit Handlungsempfehlungen der Plattform „Digitale Arbeitswelt“ zur beruflichen Weiterbildung aus 2016 findet sich hier: [30.09.2021]

Konzept des Lebenslangen Lernens bei der Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung: [30.09.2021]

Bitkom (2018). Weiterbildung für die digitale Arbeitswelt: [30.09.2021]

Einen Überblick über die verschiedenen Bereiche, in denen digitales (lebenslanges) Lernen adressiert werden soll, bietet Kapitel 9 in der ‚Digitalen Strategie 2025‘ des BMWi (2016), abrufbar unter [30.09.2021]

Scientific Partner

Supporting Researcher

Insa Weilage

Photo: (c) CWS

Insa Weilage studied Philosophy & Economics (BA) and Economics (MSc) at the University of Bayreuth. Since graduation she is pursuing her PhD at the Institute for Economic Policy at Leibniz University Hannover (LUH) with a research focus on adult education. She is also a research associate at the Center for Economic Policy Studies (CWS).