EU Adult learning statistics                                                 version 30/01/2018

Complementary methodological information

Education and training statistics refer to the participation in and provision of learning through various types of learning activities. The classification used to support the data collection is the Classification of Learning Activities (CLA). On the whole, three forms of learning are clearly distinguished depending notably on the context in which the learning activity takes place and the qualification it can eventually lead to. Those three forms are formal, non-formal and informal learning (for further information, see education and training classifications).

Adult learning statistics focus on the provision of learning activities after the end of initial education. Adult learning is part of lifelong learning. Adult learning statistics cover the following purposes of education and training activities:

- Activities sponsored by the employer, i.e. financed in total or at least partially by the employer; part financing could include the use of work time for the training activity, i.e. the training activity takes place during paid working time (continuing vocational training);

- Other job-related activities;

- Non-job-related activities (e.g. music or sport lessons);

- Other types of intentional learning activities not provided in an institutionalised context (informal learning activities).

There are three main sources providing data on participation in education and training at EU level:

- The Adult Education Survey (AES): a pilot survey took place in 2007 and starting from the 2011 survey the AES is carried out every five years. The AES provides an overview of the participation of individuals in education and training according to the three forms of learning activities listed above (formal, non-formal and informal learning) as well as the purpose of the learning activities. The reference period for the participation in education and training is the twelve months prior to the interview. The target population are those aged 25 to 64.

- The Continuing Vocational Training Survey (CVTS) complements the AES results with information on learning activities sponsored by the employer to support skills development of their staff. The reference period for the provision of continuing vocational training is the calendar year. The CVTS was conducted for the reference years 1993, 1999, 2005, 2010 and 2015.

- The EU Labour Force Survey (LFS) provides annual results for the indicator 'adult participation in learning' (participation of people aged 25-64 in education and training, this indicator was previously also named 'lifelong learning') used for regular EU policy monitoring. The reference period for the participation in education and training is the four weeks prior to the interview.

In addition to these series, an ad-hoc module to the LFS was carried out in 2003 on lifelong learning with similar characteristics as the AES (12-month reference period). Data from this module are displayed in the domain ‘Past series (trng_h)’ in Eurostat's online database. This domain also presents 1999 CVTS data. 1993 CVTS data are not available on Eurostat's online database but main results are available here.


Section 1 – Adult Education Survey (AES)

1.1 Implementation of the AES

1.2 AES quality reporting

1.3 Calculation of AES indicators and reliability thresholds

1.4 EU implementation manuals and national questionnaires


Section 2 – Continuing Vocational Training Survey (CVTS)

2.1 Implementation of the CVTS

2.2 CVTS quality reporting

2.3 Calculation of CVTS indicators, confidentiality thresholds and item non-response

2.4 EU implementation manuals and national questionnaires


Section 3 – Participation rate in education and training – LFS data

3.1 Implementation of variables on participation in education and training

3.2 Comparability across countries

- ANNEX A: Comparability of LFS data on participation in education and training

3.3 Calculation of the LFS series on participation in education and training

- ANNEX B: Exceptions for the calculation of the LFS/AL series

3.4 Ad-hoc modules


Section 4 – Dissemination of EU statistics on adult learning

4.1 Dissemination of main results

4.2 Dissemination of anonymised datasets

4.3 Coherence between AES and LFS results


Regulations on EU statistics on education and training