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Adult Participation in Learning Survey 2019

There has been a 10% (almost four million) drop in the number of adults taking skills training since 2010, according to the latest annual assessment of participation rates by the Learning and Work Foundation.


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This report presents the findings from the 2019 Adult Participation in Learning Survey undertaken by the Learning and Work Institute (L&W), including patterns of participation in learning across demographic groups, the nature of learning undertaken, motivations for and barriers to participation, and the benefits of engaging in adult learning. This survey, which draws on data from a national representative survey of 5,000 adults across the UK (or Great Britain in 2019), provides an evidence base on who participates in learning, their motivations, barriers, and benefits experienced.


The 2019 survey records the lowest participation rate in the 23-year history of the survey. The report says government expenditure on adult education (excluding apprenticeships) has been almost halved, while industry spending on employee skills training lags behind other leading economies. 

It is the third year in a row in which the participation rate has fallen to a record low. Just 33% of adults say that they have participated in learning during the previous three years, while 38% say that they have not done any learning since leaving full time education.

There are persistent inequalities in learning, with the adults who could most benefit from participating in learning being the least likely to do so. Those in lower social grades, those with fewer years of initial education, and those furthest from the labour market remain under-represented in learning. Participation declines with age, with older adults being significantly less likely to participate in learning.

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Learning and Work Institute
Type of resource
Studies and Reports
United Kingdom
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