各种观察家描绘今天的全球经济作为一个在进化到知识经济。知识经济主要取决于思想的运用而不是体能和技术的应用，而不是资源或廉价劳动力（瑟伯恩利用改造1995）。这是一个经济中，知识的创造、获取、交流、和更有效地使用由个人，企业，组织，和社区，促进经济和社会发展（吉登斯2006），知识经济的兴起意味着经济学家一直质疑超越劳动和资本作为生产的主要因素。Paul Romer（1995）（在Holsapple 2003引）认为，技术和知识，它的基础，已经被视为发达经济体的主要因素。迪林勋爵的报告1997指出，高等教育应以维持学习型社会服务的需求，适应性强，可持续发展，知识经济在地方、区域和国家各级（承1997）。制备工作者在知识经济中的竞争需要在终身学习的形式来教育和培训的新方法。这个终身学习的框架，包括学习整个生命周期，从幼儿到退休。它应该包括正式的、非正规的、非正式的教育和培训。终身学习的影响和可能的未来将在这篇文章稍后讨论。
A variety of observers depict today's global economy as one in evolution to a knowledge economy. This knowledge-based economy depends primarily upon the use of ideas rather than physical aptitude and on the application of technology rather than the transformation of resources or the utilisation of cheap labour (Therborn 1995). It is an economy in which knowledge is created, acquired, communicated, and used more effectively by individuals, enterprises, organisations, and communities to promote economic and social development (Giddens 2006).The rise of this knowledge economy has meant that economists have been challenged to look beyond labour and capital as the central factors of production. Paul Romer (1995) (cited in Holsapple 2003) argued that technology, and the knowledge on which it is based, has to be viewed as a major factor in leading economies. The Dearing report of 1997 stated that higher education should sustain a learning society in order to serve the needs of an adaptable, sustainable, knowledge-based economy at local, regional and national levels (Dearing 1997).Preparing workers to compete in the knowledge economy requires a new approach to education and training in the form of lifelong learning. This lifelong learning framework embraces learning throughout the entire life cycle, from early childhood to retirement. It should include formal, non-formal, and informal education and training. The implications and possible future of Lifelong Learning will be discussed later in this essay.