Adult learning is a vital component of EU education policies, as it is essential to competitiveness and employability, social inclusion, active citizenship and personal development across Europe. The challenge is to provide opportunities for all, especially the most disadvantaged groups who need learning most.
Adult learning covers:
As regards age, it refers to all learning undertaken by adults after they have left their initial education and training.
The economic crisis, the need for new skills and the demographic changes facing Europe have highlighted the key role of adult learning in lifelong learning strategies and as part of the policies for competitiveness and employability, social inclusion, active citizenship.
However, the potential of adult learning has not been yet fully exploited: participation in lifelong learning varies greatly and is unsatisfactory in many EU countries, and well below the EU target for average participation in lifelong learning (15% by 2020 for adults aged 25-64). In 2011, average participation was 8.9%.
The participation rates vary significantly between EU countries: from 1.2% - 32.3% (2011). The overall trend is negative. In 2011, only six EU countries had reached or exceeded the target participation rate. Participation also decreases substantially in the case of low-skilled and older adults.
The EU Commission supports EU countries policy developments by: