Reforms Needed to Broaden the Reach of Adult Learning


10/02/2003 - In today's fast-changing knowledge society, older and unskilled individuals are in the greatest need of additional training, but are least likely to get it, according to a new study of adult education in nine OECD countries.

Most training tends to concentrate on workers in large companies who are already qualified and enjoy relatively high professional status, concludes the study, Beyond Rhetoric: Adult Learning Policies and Practices. More than 50% of those who receive training do so with support from their employers.

However, to contribute to economic growth, cope with stubbornly high unemployment, and encourage greater social cohesion, countries should open educational opportunities to more adults, argue the study's authors. They propose a series of reforms, drawing on the experience from initiatives underway in countries that participated in the study.

The suggested reforms include incentives to companies to offer training for employees, financial incentives for individuals, adapting education programs to fit the unpredictable schedules of adult learners, and improving the quality of the programs. The authors also call for increased co-operation among government agencies, as well as with labour representatives and employers, in an effort to improve efficiency and make better use of public funds. The study concludes that adult learning opportunities are currently most widely available in Nordic countries and least available in Southern Europe. Countries covered in the study are Canada, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Journalists may obtain a copy of the report from the Media Relations Division . A summary of the report is available in English, French, German, Spanish and Japanese on the OECD web site, along with detailed evaluations for individual countries, at the address: .

For more information journalists are invited to contact Beatriz Pont (tel. [33] 1 45 24 18 24) and Patrick Werquin (tel. [33] 1 45 24 97 58) of the OECD's Education and Training Policy Division, or Peter Tergeist (tel: [33] 1 45 24 92 57) of the OECD's Employment Analysis and Policy Division.

Subscribers and readers at subscribing institutions can access the study via SourceOECD our online library. Non-subscribers will be able to purchase the study via our Online Bookshop.

For more information on OECD work on adult learning


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