Life Long Learning Participation in Ireland
The European Union (EU) has set a target of 15% for adult participation in learning activities to be reached by 2020. In addition, one of the targets set out in the National Skills Strategy is to increase to 10% the share of persons aged 25-64 engaged in lifelong learning by 2020 and to 15% by 2025. This paper aims to monitor Ireland’s progress towards these targets and is the fourth in a series of short papers produced by the Skills and Labour Market Research Unit in SOLAS, on behalf of the National Skills Council (and formerly the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs).
Data Measure: in this paper, we use the EU measure of lifelong learning; this is based on the number of adults aged between 25-64 years who had participated in formal and/or non-formal learning activities in the four weeks prior to the survey. The measure excludes participation in informal learning activities. Further details on this measure are provided on page 6.
Timeframe: this paper reports on lifelong learning participation in Ireland in quarter 4 2017. The EU’s statistical agency (Eurostat), however, reports lifelong learning participation rates in terms of annual averages. Therefore, there will be differences between rates reported here and those reported at EU level.
Comparisons: the analysis is based on Central Statistics Office (CSO) Labour Force Survey data. A new Labour Force Survey (LFS) replaced the Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) in Q3 2017; this has resulted in a break in series and therefore it is not possible to compare lifelong learning estimates before and after this period. For this reason, the analysis presented here focuses on lifelong learning participation in quarter 4 2017 only.
Of the 2.55 million adults aged 25-64 years in quarter 4 2017, 358,000 had participated in learning activities in the four weeks prior to the survey
This amounts to a lifelong learning rate of 14%
Over 131,000 adults had participated in formal learning activities, while almost 249,000 participated in non-formal learning activities, translating into participation rates of 5% and 10% respectively. (A small number of adults participated in both formal and non-formal learning; therefore total lifelong learning is slightly less than the sum of the two learning types.)
While formal learning is approximately half that of non-formal learning, the general patterns are the same, with rates for both learning types increasing with education attainment, and, in the main, declining with age
As measured in the Labour Force Survey, lifelong learning participation in Ireland in quarter 4 2017 exceeded the target set out in the National Skills Strategy for 2020
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