What is the Commission doing?

The Commission is working with 32 countries to implement the European Agenda for Adult Learning. The Agenda highlights the need to increase participation in adult learning of all kinds (formal, non-formal and informal learning) whether to acquire new work skills, for active citizenship, or for personal development and fulfilment.

For example, the Commission coordinates a network of national coordinators who promote adult learning in their countries, provide policy advice and support, and gather and disseminate best practices. The Commission also works with a range of European associations, networks, and labour organisations to promote adult learning.

Why is it needed?

More adult learning can help Europe overcome the economic crisis, meet the need for new skills, and keep its ageing workforce productive. Learning is also essential for social inclusion and active citizenship. These days, people cannot just rely on the skills they acquired at school to last them till the end of their working life.

The participation of adults in learning varies significantly between EU countries: from 1.4% to 31.6% (2012 figures), and the overall trend is that numbers are stagnating. Participation rates are especially disappointing for low-skilled and older adults. Action at European level will increase knowledge about successful policies, provide support, and enable a better exchange of experiences between countries.

What has been done so far?

To support policy developments:

  • EU countries have set a target for adult learning: by 2020, 15% of adults aged 25-64 should be taking part. In 2012, average participation was 9% and only 5 EU countries had reached the target rate;
  • The Commission publishes indicators and data on the current situation in member countries, reports on progress in implementing policies and proposes new policy;
  • The Commission facilitates exchange of good practice and peer learning on policies in the Education and Training 2020 work programme, working groups, and networks on dedicated themes have been convened for limited periods;
  • The Commission has commissioned studies that bring evidence and data to support more effective policies.