Given current demographic trends and the ageing of the workforce it is likely that older people will increasingly need to broaden and update their skills to meet labour market challenges.

This means an increased need for lifelong learning, to which VET should positively contribute.

The indicator below is defined as the percentage of older adults (aged 50-64) who participated in education or training in the four weeks preceding the survey, hence it is a measure of lifelong learning among older adults.

Figure 11: Older adults in lifelong learning (%)

Source: Cedefop calculations based on Eurostat, EU labour force survey.

Key points

In 2016, 7.0% of older adults (aged 50-64) in the EU participated in education and training over the four weeks prior to the survey. This is a lower share than the 10.8% recorded for all adults (indicator 1050), suggesting that, other things being equal, older people are less likely to engage in lifelong learning. The Nordic countries Sweden (23.0%), Denmark (21.3%), and Finland (18.9%) reported the highest shares in 2016, all well above 15%. Those three countries also had the highest participation rates of adults aged 25-64 in lifelong learning (indicator 1050) in 2016. Participation of older adults in lifelong learning was the lowest in Greece, Poland, and Slovakia (all three below 1.5%).

In the EU participation in lifelong learning among older adults has risen by 0.3 percentage points between 2013 and 2016. The biggest increases over the same period were reported in Estonia, 4Hungary (3 and Italy (respectively by 4/8. 3 and 2.4 percentage points). Among the Member States with an opposite change in the participation rate, Slovenia (by 0.9 percentage points), Ireland (0.9)and the United Kingdom (by 1.5) faced the largest drop between 2013 and 2016.

Among non-EU countries, Switzerland (at 28.3%), Iceland (at 18.9%) and Norway (at 13.3%) had 2016 participation levels well above the EU average. In contrast, participation of older adults in lifelong learning in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and in Turkey (both at 0.7%) was low.

Table 11: Older 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: Cedefop calculations based on Eurostat, EU labour force survey.

Data insights details



Annex 1: short description of indicators and additional notes


Annex 2: Reading the indicator statistical overviews