Supporting the well-being of adult learning educators needs more policy attention


While EU policies place emphasis on adult learning, insufficient attention is given to the well-being of adult educators.  ETUCE organised a webinar on 14 February 2024 entitled “The role of collaborative educational leadership to support the well-being of adult learning educators”. The event is part of a webinar week organised by Education Leadership Network Europe, a new consortium on school leadership with EFEE, ETUCE, EPA, OBESSU and ESHA as the lead partners.

Speakers from the European Commission, Italian Union of School Workers (UIL-Scuola), Polish NGO Trainers’ Association (sTOP), and Portuguese National Association of Professional Schools (ANESPO) addressed the topic. Adult learning educators is a difficult profession as they can be employed by the public sectors or by private institutions.

The adult learning educators often work under precarious contracts, and they are often mobile teachers working hour by hour in different parts of a city or a country. Low salaries, precarity, stress and burnout, bad working conditions, long working hours, lack of training and funding were identified as the biggest challenges by the speakers and participants, and lead to high dropout rates from the profession. At the same time, they need to have specific initial education to be adult learning educators as there is different pedagogical methods to be used for the young students and adults.

ETUCE and EFEE as European social partners in the education sector have already started to discuss about the well-being of the adult educators. Social dialogue is key in order to achieve fair salaries, decent working conditions and permanent contracts for the adult educators. Education trade unions have an essential role in providing information to the adult educators about their rights as employees and provide them support to improve their working conditions. Each adult educator should have membership in their respective education trade unions.

Speakers and participants underscored that keys for a good collaborative educational leadership are social dialogue, stable contracts, respect, partnership, adequate funding, shared decision making and ensuring fair working conditions. It would be important to recognise the work experience of the educators, involve them to decision making, and to enhance collaboration among them. Novice teachers would need more mentoring and support at the start of the profession.

Collaborative educational and school leadership can create a solid framework to further enhance the appeal of the adult learning educator profession by promoting shared responsibility, distributive leadership and collective problem-solving among stakeholders. Towards these goals, the speakers underlined that the European Commission has a key role in motivating the EU Member States to enhance social dialogue with the education trade unions on the issue of supporting adult learning educators’ well-being and working conditions. Notably, guidelines on well-being of the adult learning educators could be developed for the EU countries with the support of the Working Group on Adult Learning, with ETUCE, EFEE, and EAEA are members, with the focus of implementing the Council conclusions on European teachers and trainers for the future of the Croatian Presidency (2020).