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Adult learning covers the entire spectrum of what we learn after leaving initial education and training. This includes work- and career-oriented learning, obtaining new qualifications, up-skilling or re-skilling for employment, but also learning for personal development and active citizenship.

Ensuring that Europe’s citizens keep developing their knowledge, skills and competence throughout their lives is vital for employment, competitiveness and innovation, especially considering demographic change and the challenges of globalisation. Therefore, European education and training policy increasingly focuses on adult learning. A major concern is tackling unemployment and raising the adult participation rate in learning, particularly of low-qualified adults and older citizens. Vocational education and training (VET), incl. formal, non-formal and informal learning – in particular learning at the workplace – is a fundamental contribution to lifelong and lifewide learning of adults.

Cedefop supports the development of a European adult learning policy by following up the renewed European agenda for adult learning. With a focus on VET, Cedefop monitors and reviews policy developments that affect adult learning and makes recommendations. Its analyses contribute to evidence-based policy making and to the Europe-wide debate among policy-makers, practitioners and researchers on how to improve adult learning.

Cedefop studies

Empowering adults through upskilling and reskilling pathways - Volume 1: adult population with potential for upskilling and reskilling (2/2020)
This study is the first volume of Cedefop research on empowering adults through upskilling and reskilling pathways.

Investing in skills pays off: the economic and social cost of low-skilled adults in the EU (7/2017)
This Cedefop study seeks to provide a comprehensive and robust evidence base in relation to low-skilled adults in the European Union. It analyses trends in low skills among adults as well as characteristics, determinants and risks of being low skilled.
Job-related adult learning and continuing vocational training in Europe: a statistical picture (11/2015)
This report provides a statistical picture of job-related adult learning and continuing vocational training in the EU.
Work-based learning approaches in continuing vocational education and training in Europe: practices and policies (9/2015)
This study provides an landscape of work-based learning in CVET in Europe, and identifies priorities and insights for effective CVET policies and systems.
Briefing note - encouraging adult learning (8/2015)
Despite improvements, adult learning still needs to become more attractive, inclusive, accessible and flexible.
Return to Work – Work-based learning and the reintegration of unemployed adults into the labour market (11/2013)
The study shows that work-based learning programmes focussing on key competences can be an effective instrument for addressing barriers to (re-)entering the labour market that low-qualified unemployed adults are facing, provided that these programmes are properly targeted and designed.
Learning and innovation in enterprises (11/2012)
This study investigates links between work organisation, workplace learning, training and innovation, and shows that VET and learning-conducive work environments play an important role for fostering the innovative ability of enterprises.

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Project contacts

Lidia Salvatore