Human Capital

Learning communities to boost Top Sector innovation

Learning Communities 2018 - 2021: an investment agenda by all Top Sectors

Technological progress and disruption radically change the labour market. People – who cannot quickly adapt to the speed and possess the necessary skills – are at risk of dropping out, which will have a negative impact on our knowledge economy. Learning communities could turn the tide, state the Top Sectors in the investment agenda ‘Learning Communities 2018 - 2021’ that Anka Mulder (Executive Board, Delft University of Technology) presented on 26 June 2017 on behalf of all Top Sectors to Maarten Camps, Secretary General of the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

In the investment agenda, presented during the national Techniekpactconferentie #voorbij 2020 the Top Sectors state that public-private partnerships must continue and speed up to develop into learning communities in which learning, working and innovating go hand in hand. This is necessary to be able to address the societal challenges and capitalise on economic opportunities.

Aad Veenman, Top Sector Logistics, states: “Learning communities are a particularly useful instrument in which learning, working and innovating are connected and in which people are challenged to further develop their knowledge, skills and talent.”


Twenty pilots, in particular, were examined by an advisory and investigatory committee from the Top Sectors along with 100 other stakeholders involved (including entrepreneurs, government bodies and educational establishments). These pilots concern various topics in life-long learning. Furthermore, all tertiary education levels, various sectors and multiple disciplines were considered. A panel of scientists from different disciplines drew up a research agenda with urgent questions and topics.

A paradigm shift

Current and future challenges, such as the energy transition, the ageing society and digitalisation, force us to cooperate and act. A paradigm shift in how we develop, innovate and learn is necessary. ‘Ultimately, this agenda is far broader than just the joint Top Sectors. Both national and regional partners – research, education, governments and industry – have a role to play in order to achieve a breakthrough,’ according to Veenman.

Call to action

The Top Sectors urge all stakeholders involved, both national and regional, to take the next steps by effectively developing existing partnerships further, sharing knowledge and organising the required research. Finally, existing financing arrangements need to be made suitable for a life-long learning that will benefit all of us.

Read the four Learning communities 2018 -2020 publications on the Health~Holland website.

Watch the video on Learning Communities (Dutch)