Raising adult participation in lifelong learning is one key objective of the EU education and training 2020 strategy.

A target has been set: by 2020, an average of at least 15% of adults should participate in lifelong learning in the EU. With adult learning activities being mostly non-formal and mostly job related (as reported by adult education survey in the EU), CVET plays an important role.

The indicator below is participation in lifelong learning. It is defined as the percentage of the adult population aged 25-64 participating in education and training over the four weeks prior to the survey.

Figure 6: Adults in lifelong learning (%)

Source: Eurostat, EU labour force survey.

Key points

In 2016, 10.8% of adults in the EU participated in education and training (in the four weeks prior to the survey). Denmark, Sweden and Finland reported the highest percentages with  participation rates above 25%. (In contrast, participation rates were lowest in Bulgaria and Romania (below 3%).

Among non-EU countries, participation of adults in lifelong learning varies considerably, with values for 2016 ranging between 32.9% (in Switzerland) and 2.9% (in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia).

Between 2013 and 2016, the lifelong learning indicator for the EU as a whole did not change much (up by 0.1 percentage points). This was also the case (over the same period from 2013 to 2016) in Belgium, Croatia, Lithuania, Malta, and Portugal. In contrast, over the same period, participation rates in some Member States clearly went up. Increases by 1.0 percentage point or more were observed in Estonia, Italy, Finland, and Sweden). Clear drops (by 1.0 percentage points or more) were instead observed in the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, Ireland, and Luxembourg).

Table 6: Adults in lifelong learning (%)

Arrows ↗ or ↘ signal a positive or negative trend based on more than two data points and of magnitude 0.1 per year or more. Trends based on more than two data points but of smaller magnitude are indicated by →; trends based on two points only are marked ▪. Trends are estimated by means of regression models.
(b) Break after 2010. Therefore baseline data not included. (u) Eurostat: "low reliability". (z) Eurostat: "not applicable". (e) Eurostat: "estimated".

Source: Eurostat, EU labour force survey.

Data insights details

Related Theme


Annex 1: short description of indicators and additional notes


Annex 2: Reading the indicator statistical overviews