News archive - Competences for life: the skills you need to cope with complexity

People who nurture certain personal, social and learning skills will be better prepared to face the challenges of today’s society and grasp the opportunities that change brings.

The world we live in is changing fast, and life is becoming increasingly complex and uncertain.

Technologies play an increasingly important role, while new work models are surging fast. Employers are looking for flexible workers who can easily update their skills.

The COVID-19 outbreak has highlighted the need to be able to adapt quickly to new working, social and learning conditions. Social and personal competences are needed to adjust to this new world.

Sometimes the complexity combined with abrupt changes can feel overwhelming.

The good news is that there are basic skills that can be learnt, which can help individuals to deal with complexity and thrive in the fast-changing world.

The JRC, in collaboration with the Commission department for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture (EAC), has developed a unique framework, which maps these key competences for life.

"LifeComp offers a conceptual framework of the "Personal, Social, and Learning to Learn" competences that can help people become more resilient and build a meaningful life in the midst of the ever-changing world", said JRC researcher Ioannis Maghiros.

Social skills are key competences for life

The LifeComp framework emphasizes the importance of social and personal skills. It aims to systemise the strengthening of these competences through education and lifelong learning.

Based on this framework, these are the nine skills that can help people of all ages to manage the challenges and changes in their personal and professional lives:

  1. Self-regulation: Awareness and management of emotions, thoughts and behaviour
  2. Flexibility: Ability to manage transitions and uncertainty, and to face challenges
  3. Wellbeing: Pursuit of life satisfaction, care of physical, mental and social health, and adoption of a sustainable lifestyle
  4. Empathy: The understanding of another person’s emotions, experiences and values, and the provision of appropriate responses
  5. Communication: Use of relevant communication strategies, domain-specific codes and tools depending on the context and the content
  6. Collaboration: Engagement in group activity and teamwork acknowledging and respecting others
  7. Growth mindset: Belief in one’s and others’ potential to continuously learn and progress
  8. Critical thinking: Assessment of information and arguments to support reasoned conclusions and develop innovative solutions
  9. Managing learning: The planning, organising, monitoring and reviewing of one's own learning

Life competences can be taught

LifeComp competences are teachable. They can be learned through formal or informal education.

"It is possible to teach a person to be a critical thinker, to control their emotions or to become more empathetic towards others. These skills are fundamental for people to be able to determine their own career paths and for their own well-being", Ioannis explains.  

The researchers are hoping that the formalisation of the skills into a framework will encourage schools and teachers to devote more time for them in the learning programmes.


In May 2018, the European Council adopted an updated Recommendation on Key Competences for Lifelong Learning to further promote the development of key competences in the European Union.

The recommendation described eight key competences that are considered fundamental to achieve personal satisfaction, to develop ourselves, to keep being employable and that are also essential for our social inclusion and for our civic participation in society.

The LifeComp framework builds on this recommendation and previous JRC work on the Digital Competence Framework (DigComp), the Entrepreneurship Competence Framework (EntreComp), the respective user guides: DigComp into Action, and EntreComp into action.

Following on from the LifeComp conceptual framework, the JRC will further analyse how the framework can be put into practice, focussing for instance on developing guidelines for teachers.

Original source:

Geographical focus
  • Europe
  • European Union (EU 27)
  • Western Balkans
Scientifc field / Thematic focus
  • Humanities
  • Social Sciences

Entry created by Admin on July 23, 2020
Modified on July 23, 2020