Share     Print or Download as PDF

Created By N. Zimmermann

Successful and relevant application of learning happens when individuals activate and apply knowledge, attitudes and skills in a specific situation. This ability can be described as competence. From a lifelong learning perspective it is a short time people spend in educational institutions. Outside of formal learning settings they continue self-development, gain new insights and shape their personalities. We might conclude, that education and qualification needs to respond to that observation and cover the broad range of experience, attitudes, book-knowledge and skills that one has and needs for his or her active and autonomously shaped life. The shift has taken place from traditional knowledge dissemination toward modern competency development under a lifelong perspective

Transversal or Key Competences

When competences have universal characteristics and are relevant for successful action in very different fields of life, they are named transversal or key competences - in contrast to specific competences which are required more or less only in one specific field or learning context.

The Challenge: Knowledge Society

The idea of a society following the principals of life-long learning started to come into fashion during the 1970’s. In that time the intellectual ideas of reform pedagogy were brought together with an explicit modernist vision of societal development. A crucial role for further development was played by the competency-based style of learning.

Formal, Non-Formal and Informal Education

Learning takes place everywhere: in schools, at work, in our spare time, and all throughout our private lives. Educational institutions only specialize in certain aspects of learning. A common understanding is to divide them into three types of educational structures – ones that provide formal, non-formal or informal education.

Civic Competences

Civic competences enable people to act responsibly in society and in their interaction with other individuals according to values like transparency, openness, social responsibility and human dignity. They are part of a system of transversal (or key) competencies. In contrast to other competences, they refer to shared democratic values which are not self-explanatory.

Digital Competences

Digital competences describe the ability of people to use information technology and media and and to make sense of it for the personal engagement and development.


Creativity is a core ingredience for becoming able to act proactively as an active citizen, for finding new visions or for fixing concrete problems, for increasing understanding of complex problems and for cooperation with other people or groups. Creativity is a process innate to our brains, one that can be stimulated through facilitation.

Competencies for an Interconnected World

How global, international and European learning contributes to competency development


back to the main section Understanding


A competency is more than just knowledge and skills. It involves the ability to meet complex demands.

"A com­pe­tency is more than just know­ledge and skills. It involves the ability to meet complex demands, by drawing on and mobili­zing psycho­social resources (including skills and attitudes) in a particular context."




A joint project of the Competendo Community. Implemented with financial assistance of the European Union