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Lifelong learning for adults with a low level of education: any recent progress?

Among 25-64 year-olds, those with low qualifications are less likely to participate in adult learning. In the EU, their participation rates have stagnated at 3.8 %

To increase economic competitiveness and create a more equitable and inclusive society, lifelong learning should be a reality for everyone in the EU. Adults’ participation in lifelong learning should be increased, particularly for individuals and groups at risk of exclusion, such as those with a low level of education (Bruges Communiqué and ET 2020 Strategy).

The indicator considered here is the rate of participation in lifelong learning of adults with low educational attainment. The data refer to 25-64 year-olds with at most lower secondary education (ISCED levels 0-2) who participated in further education or training in the four weeks prior to the survey.

 

Key points

  • In 2010, about 74 million adults in the EU had low educational attainment (at most lower secondary education). Of that number, 3.8 % had participated in further education or training in the four weeks prior to the survey. This was well below the corresponding figure for all adults (9.1 %).
  • For 2010, country estimates for the rate of participation in lifelong learning of adults with a low level of education are available for 18 EU Member States. The rate was highest in Denmark (23.4 %) and Sweden (15.8 %) and was over 9 % in the Netherlands (9.2 %), the United Kingdom (9.6 %) and Finland (9.8 %). In the other EU countries for which data are available, participation rates were much lower. The lowest rates were recorded in Greece, Hungary, Poland, Italy and the Czech Republic (below 2 %).
  • In the period 2008-10, participation in lifelong learning of adults with a low level of education stagnated. The EU rate was stable and in the majority of countries for which trends are available there was little or no change, with variations of less than half of one percentage point.
  • In the same period, participation of adults with a low level of education increased only in Denmark and Sweden (by about 2.5 percentage points) and in Portugal (by 0.8 percentage points).
  • Rates fell very slightly in Finland and the United Kingdom (by 0.8 and 0.5 percentage points respectively).

Notes

The indicator considers the number of adults (i.e. 25-64 year-olds) with low educational attainment (i.e. with at most an initial lower secondary education) participating in lifelong learning activities (formal and non-formal) in the four weeks prior to the survey. The indicator expresses this number as a percentage of the corresponding population (i.e. adults aged 25-64 with low educational attainment).

Data are annual averages taken from the EU Labour force survey and are subject to its methodology. Data were extracted from the Eurostat online database on 16 March 2012. When interpreting the data, possible differences in national implementation of the EU LFS should be taken into account.

Data for France (2010) are provisional. Data for the Netherlands for 2010 are not comparable with those for previous years. Data for some countries are not presented due to sample size constraints. Estimates for the EU27 aggregate are nevertheless possible and are provided by Eurostat.