Prof. Dr. Jacques Delors

Ladies and Gentlemen, First I owe you my apologies and gratitude.

I apologise for not joining you in Cologne, for reasons that were truly beyond my control.

I offer my apologies and regrets first of all to Mr Hans-Dietrich Genscher, a long-standing friend with whom I have worked, or rather, been privileged to work, on many occasions, as he is a prominent personality in both Germany and Europe. I also want to extend my apologies and regrets to the European Corporate Learning Forum, its organisers and all those attending the meeting.

The topic I want to discuss in detail before you today concern the central position education has in our society. In fact, when talking about education, we inadvertently extend the topic to life, work, development through work for the benefit of the community and the future of our young people who will be entering the labour market. Actually, we find ourselves in a difficult situation today. Furthermore, given the civilizing objectives of education, I would also like to discuss each individual’s personal capacity to take control of their own lives. As business leaders, you have taken these topics on board in an effort to try to improve your own performance, your business results and to ensure the successful production of goods and services. But, of course, to do this you need a trained and mobile workforce of men and women, who are capable of completing the task in hand, either independently or as part of a team. This is why there is such a strong link between education and your own concerns.

UNESCO is the responsible organization for addressing education within the framework of international organisations. It has carried out several missions in this regard, one of which was entrusted to me - the Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Century, whose members include education specialists, philosophers, business leaders, intellectuals and novelists. Although this Commission submitted its report 14 years ago, in 1996, certain aspects of that report are to this day still relevant and urgent, and serve as reference points in a number of works devoted to education, vocational training and lifelong learning. In reality, without wanting to digress too much into philosophical concepts, I would like to say a few words about the dual requirement for reliability and adaptation, which is necessary when dealing with education.

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