Adult learning is important for economic growth and also for social and personal development. However, it is still a weak link in the lifelong learning agenda. Adult learning can enhance the human capital of individuals and nations. It can bring important social benefits in terms of improved civic participation and social cohesion, as well as personal benefits, such as improved health and well-being, and greater self-confidence. However, despite these benefits, there is insufficient participation in adult learning. It generally concentrates on certain groups: the younger, the more educated, or those working in larger enterprises. The low participation of more disadvantaged groups in adult learning is mainly due to lack of motivation and other barriers such as time and financial constraints and lack of quality education programmes.
This publication provides policy guidance in an area that has been given little policy priority until recent years. It brings together key lessons from 17 OECD countries, providing evidence on the strategies in place to improve adults’ participation in learning. It addresses potential barriers to learning as well as the policies to remedy them. Among these are policies for increasing and promoting the benefits of adult learning to make them transparent and easily recognised. Other policy levers include economic incentives and co-financing mechanisms that can raise the efficiency of adult learning provision and deliver quality learning that is adapted to adults’ needs. Finally, policy making can be improved via co-ordination and coherence in a field that is characterised by a wide variety of stakeholders, including ministries of education and ministries of labour.
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