EU Adult learning statistics
Complementary methodological information
The Adult Education Survey (AES) is part of the EU statistics on adult learning. The survey covers participation in education and training (formal, non-formal and informal learning). The reference period for the participation in education and training is the twelve months prior to the interview. The AES covers the resident population aged 25-64.
A voluntary pilot survey was carried out in 2007 and the survey is based on European legislation as from the 2011 AES (collected in 2011 and 2012). The basic legal act is the Regulation (EC) No 452/2008 which lays down the main characteristics of the survey as well as the periodicity (every five years). For regulations on EU statistics on education and training see here.
1.1 Implementation of the AES
a) 2007 AES
The first AES was carried out on a voluntary basis by 29 countries in the EU, EFTA and candidate countries between 2005 and 2008. This first AES was a pilot exercise and it is referred to as 2007 AES (and sometimes as ‘Pilot AES’). The 2007 AES proposed for the first time a common EU framework including a standard questionnaire and quality reporting. The participating countries were: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom as well as Norway, Switzerland and Turkey. Of the EU Member States Ireland and Luxembourg did not take part in the pilot survey.
The 2007 AES was the first survey introducing the Classification of Learning Activities (CLA). The CLA then became the main reference for the implementation of variables on participation in education and training in other surveys.
b) 2011 AES
The 2011 AES was – for the first time – underpinned by a European legal act and thus carried out in all Member States on a mandatory basis. Commission Regulation (EU) 823/2010 sets out the implementing measures of the basic legal act (Regulation (EC) No 452/2008) for the 2011 AES.
The implementation of the 2011 survey was adapted to better match the structure of the CLA. The fieldwork of the 2011 AES took place between 1 July 2011 and 30 June 2012. On the whole, 31 countries implemented the survey: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom as well as Norway, Switzerland, Serbia and Turkey.
c) 2016 AES
Data collection for the 2016 AES took place between 1 July 2016 and 31 March 2017. Implementation details for the 2016 AES are provided in Commission Regulation (EU) No 1175/2014. The 2016 AES data collection was designed in a way that took changes and new developments in adult participation in lifelong learning into account while keeping coherence with the 2011 AES where appropriate.
The following 35 countries participated in the 2016 AES: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom as well as Norway, Switzerland, Serbia and Turkey. Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia also participated in the 2016 round.
1.2 AES quality reporting
For national and EU quality reports on 2007, 2011 and 2016 AES see here.
More information on the comparability of AES results with other sources is available in section 4.
1.3 Calculation of AES indicators and reliability thresholds
This section focuses on the description of the procedures used for the calculation of AES results (algorithms and reliability thresholds). The list of main publications of AES results is available in section 4.
Calculation of the AES indicators
The technical description of the AES indicators (as published on Eurostat's website) for the 2007, 2011 and 2016 waves are available here.
It is possible to compute AES indicators on employer-sponsored activities in a similar approach as the one used in CVTS.
While Eurostat systematically ensures that at least three people of a given sample are used for any estimates computed on that sample, extra reliability thresholds need to be applied. Indeed when it comes to computing results from a survey, one needs to ensure a sufficient statistical robustness of the estimates.
The minimum precision requirement is expressed in terms of number of sample observations on which any statistic is based and the level of item non-response. The following rules – identical to those used for the publication of EU-SILC data (Statistics on Income and Living Conditions) – are applied to AES results:
1.4 EU implementation manuals and national questionnaires
The EU implementation manuals and the national questionnaires used by each country (if available) can be found:
- here for the 2007 AES;
- here for the 2011 AES;
- here for the 2016 AES.
 See Commission Regulation (EC) No 1982/2003 of 21 October 2003 implementing Regulation (EC) No 1177/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning Community statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC) as regards the sampling and tracing rules.