A Dangerous Obsession? Rethinking National Indices of Lifelong Learning and Competitiveness


In this paper we critique the ways in which indicators of lifelong learning are currently used within international indicators of competitiveness. We consider that, although there is broad agreement that indicators of competitiveness should incorporate not only the quantity but also the quality of lifelong learning, there is still an emphasis on quantity of skill and level of qualification. We suggest that indicators may be enhanced in two ways: firstly, by considering ‘skill’ not as connected simply to level of qualification but in terms of how various vectors of competence and experience are used in achieving a productive outcome; secondly, by considering regional models of competitiveness / lifelong learning, following the varieties of capitalism literature, rather than assuming that there is one ‘ideal’ national model. We conclude by providing examples of the sorts of indicators that might make up a Human Resources Index (HRI).