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Is cost a significant obstacle to adult participation in learning?

Cost is only the third most important obstacle that prevents adults in Europe from participating in education and training. But its importance varies across countries.


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Adult learning contributes not only to economic growth, competitiveness and social inclusion, but also to individuals’ personal development and fulfilment: Lifting the barriers to participation in adult learning is therefore one of the main objectives of the Commission Action Plan on Adult learning, 27.9.2007.

The European Adult Education Survey asked interviewees to report the main obstacle for not participating in education and training in the last 12 months. The survey provided a wide range of possible but unique choices.

This indicator shows the percentage of adults who wanted but could not participate in learning because “education and training (was) too expensive or difficult to afford”. This indicator could be broken down by gender, age and highest level of education attained. Other main obstacles could be considered for comparison (the upper right pie chart shows results at EU-level).

Key points:

  • Family responsibilities (23% of individuals) and conflict with work schedule (22%) are primarily reported by adult Europeans as the main obstacles for not participating in education and training.
  • At European level, cost as the main obstacle to participation (“training too expensive or difficult to afford”) is the third most frequent answer, reported by 15% of adults in Europe. But its importance varies across countries ranging from 43% (Bulgaria) to 5% (Cyprus).
  • Except in the Czech Republic, cost-related obstacles tend to be more important in Eastern European countries, particularly in Bulgaria, Poland, the Baltic States and Slovenia. Furthermore, in these countries, cost is the most frequent main obstacle for not participating in education and training.

Note: Data are based on Eurostat’s Adult Education Survey (AES) and are subject to its methodology. The target population of the AES are adults aged 25-64.

Statistics and graphs Details

03/02/2010
Cedefop