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Lifelong learning in the European Union is stagnating

Lifelong learning stagnated in the European Union between 2004 and 2008: only one in ten adults participates in education and training

This indicator expresses the proportion of people aged between 25-64 that stated they received education or training in the four weeks prior to being surveyed. This indicator can also be broken down by age or sex, and could be complemented by indicators from the Adult Education Survey that look at subjects of lifelong learning and the main provider of this activity.

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Key points

  • The European Union set itself the ambitious benchmark of achieving by 2010 a participation rate in lifelong learning of 12.5 %. In 2008, the participation rate is 9.6 %, making it unlikely that Europe will reach the benchmark by 2010. What is a matter for concern is that participation has been stagnating at the present level, after a slight increase from 2004 (9.3 %) to 2005 (9.8 %).
  • Participation is above the benchmark in the Nordic Member States, the UK, the Netherlands, Slovenia and Austria. Rates in Sweden (32.4 %; estimate 2007), Denmark (30.2 %) and Finland (23.1 %) are outstanding. Despite the decrease from 2004 to 2008, the level of participation in Slovenia (13.9 %) still gives a positive signal for the New Member States.
  • The situation is alarming in 10 Member States: 7 new Member States and 3 southern Member States. Despite a slight increase in Malta, Portugal and Greece, participation has remained below 7.0 % since 2004. Lithuania, Slovakia and Hungary fall even further behind, from 5.9 % in 2004 to 4.9 % in 2008, from 4.3 % to 3.3 %, and from 4.0 % to 3.1 % respectively. Bulgaria and Romania bring up the rear, with only one in a hundred people participating in lifelong learning.
  • Whereas Belgium (8.6 %) and Latvia (8.4 %) were still close to the EU-average in 2004, they both experienced a slide to 6.8 % in 2008.
  • Positive developments have been noted in Ireland (6.1 % in 2004 to 10.2 % in 2008), Estonia (6.4 % to 9.8 %), Cyprus (5.9 % in 2005 to 8.5 %) and the Czech Republic (5.8 % to 7.8 %). 

Notes: The data are based on Eurostats Labour Force Survey (EU LFS), and are subject to its methodology.

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