Can we build learner resilience?

Is resilience part of someone’s genetic make-up or can it be nurtured? To what extent should people be resilient? With the tumultuous events of recent times the concept of resilience is very much in focus not only as an antidote to overcome hardship and bounce back, but also with regard to policy measures and interventions in education and training which can best support learners in the face of ongoing challenges, whether social, economic, political or environmental.

What is the EU doing to support resilience?

The ‘European Reference Framework on Key Competences for Lifelong Learning’ (Council Recommendation, 2018) identifies and defines eight competences that citizens should acquire for employability, active citizenship and personal fulfilment. One of the eight competences is the ‘personal, social, and learning to learn’ in which the development of resilience features. European member states are encouraged to integrate them in all education and training systems and, under the principle of subsidiarity, are responsible for how this is implemented. To assist them the European Commission has developed LifeComp - a framework to establish a shared understanding on the “personal, social and learning to learn” key competence and help people to unleash their dynamic potential, self-regulate their emotions, thoughts, and behaviours.  This work has been led by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) – a sister organisation of the ETF. Although individuals have agency in the development of their own resilience, it is often mediated by individuals self-perception, perception of their learning contexts, which underscores the need for supporting measures and conducive learning environments. The EU’s Skill's Agenda puts forward12 EU actions empowering people to keep on learning throughout their lives.  

In this week of ETF’s communication campaign on resilience we are highlighting ETF’s work in the EU neighbourhood supporting learner resilience. Resilience at all levels is targeted in the EU's external action which is the operational context of the ETF.  More detail can be found in A Strategic Approach to Resilience in the EU's External Action

What is ETF doing to build learner resilience in the EU neighbourhood?

Key competence                                                                                                                                        

Currently, the ETF is supporting innovation in teaching and learning, including the development of key competences, as part of the Creating New Learning Initiative. This support embraces the development, implementation and dissemination of innovative teaching and learning practices in the ETF partner countries, in order to develop more effective education and training systems and support practitioner reflection on what is innovation and how it could be promoted.  


The ETF has sought to support vocational teachers and trainers as they have struggled to keep education going through the Covid-19 pandemic.  This has resulted in a tool to help identify the digital training needs of vocational teachers. Moreover, the “Teacher Booster” is a series of high-quality learning videos for teachers and other actors in lifelong learning designed to boost their capacity to face the challenges of remote learning and raise awareness on the importance of key competences for all learners especially at a time of enhanced distance learning.       

Career guidance

Individuals are now having to face career choices along their lifepath for which they need ever increasing levels of readiness and resilience. The ETF is working with stakeholders in all our partner countries in the EU neighbourhood to ensure career guidance moves from a traditional paradigm about educational choices to empowering individuals to manage and build their careers. Our work is informed by regular surveys, studies, and partnerships with other international, donor and specialist organisations. On 27th October 2021, the ETF will co-host an event with the International Labour Organization on “Career development support at the heart of lifelong learning systems”.

Digital institutional readiness - SELFIE

ETF supports the development and the system-wide implementation of SELFIE in partner countries working in close collaboration with the European Commission and the Joint Research Centre. Education and training systems need the right tools and processes to plan and develop their digital capacity. SELFIE is a free, multilingual online tool designed to guide primary, secondary general and vocational schools in a self-reflection process on their progress towards comprehensive integration and effective deployment of digital technologies into teaching, learning and student assessment.

The ETF has just recently undertaken pilot projects of SELFIE for work-based learning. It is a self-reflection tool for vocational schools that use WBL in their programmes, it is designed to assess digital readiness, to encourage a practice of collective reflection on the use of digital technologies for teaching and learning, and to use this reflection to make informed and collective decisions about strategy and practices at all levels. It can then be used to provide valuable information to plan innovative, effective learning with the support of digital technology and improve resilience to adverse conditions.


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