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The ESPON 2013 Operational Programme
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Adults in education and training, 2010

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  • Participation in lifelong learning activities largely depends on the national context. In Europe, the target for 2020 is to have 15 per cent of the adult population engaged in lifelong learning activities
  • Northern Europe clearly stands out with high values and nearly reaches the targets of the Europe 2020 strategy. In contrast, many Eastern European countries show rather low values when it comes to the participation in lifelong learning activities
  • In Eastern Europe, many countries have rather low lifelong learning values due to lack of funding

Observations for policy

Lifelong learning is a key aspect for maintaining competitiveness in today麓s integrated global economy. At present, the participation in lifelong learning activities depends largely on national socio-economic and policy contexts.

Northern Europe clearly stands out with high values and nearly reaches the targets of the Europe 2020 strategy. Many Eastern European countries show rather low values when it comes to the participation in lifelong learning activities. However, it is expected that this will change over the next years.

Policy context

Europe 2020 is the growth strategy of the European Union. The focus is on smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. These three mutually reinforcing priorities shall help to deliver high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion. At EU level, and within each Member State, concrete objectives, targets, and flagship initiatives have been defined to boost growth and jobs.

Lifelong learning and skills development is essential to sustain a competitive, innovative, green and smart workforce that is adapted to the constant challenges throughout lifetime.

The 2020 Strategic Framework for European Cooperation in Education and Training set as target 15 per cent of the adult population should participate in lifelong learning activities.

Map interpretation

The map shows the territorial variation of lifelong learning for 2010. In other words it discloses the participation of adults in education and training. The main differences are between countries rather than between regions. As such the national context is crucial to understand regional disparities.

In Scandinavia, for instance, the 15 per cent target has already been achieved for 2020. For those countries adults can access to education fairly easily for different types of learning. In Estonia, Austria, Slovenia or Luxembourg the 15 per cent target has been nearly reached. Traditionally these countries do not have adult learning culture as compared to other countries. However, the socio-economic context does not impose great difficulties in developing the sector.

In Eastern Europe, many countries have rather low lifelong learning values due to funding. It is expected however that the participation in lifelong learning programmes will increase the impact of the European Social Fund and hopefully urge the reorganisation of lifelong learning levels in EU Member States during the last two accession periods.

Concepts and methods

The indicator refers to persons aged 25 to 64 who stated that received education and training in the four weeks preceding the survey. The denominator consists of the total population of the same age group, excluding those who did not answer to the question ‘participation to education and training’. The information collected relates to all kinds of education and training regardless the respondent麓s current and possible future job.


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