Education and Training Policy

1990-1496 (online)
1990-150X (print)
Hide / Show Abstract
Presents a series of books on various aspects of education and training policy in OECD countries.
Also available in French
Promoting Adult Learning

Promoting Adult Learning You do not have access to this content

Click to Access:
  • PDF
  • READ
01 Sep 2005
9789264010932 (PDF) ;9789264010925(print)

Hide / Show Abstract

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, while delivering 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.
Also available in French, Hungarian, Korean
loader image

Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Table of Contents

  • Mark Click to Access
  • Executive Summary
    This book is a follow-up to the 2003 OECD publication Beyond Rhetoric: Adult Learning Policies and Practices. It is based on information from the 17 countries participating in the OECD thematic review of adult learning between 1999 and 2004: Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom (England), and the United States...
  • Introduction
    This comparative report of the second round of the OECD’s thematic review on adult learning comes at a time when there is increasing recognition of the importance to invest in adult learning, in the interests of both economic efficiency and equity. Recent research has shown that the macroeconomic returns to investment in human capital can be considerable: a 10% increase in the stock of human capital, as measured by an increase in years of schooling, can increase per capita GDP by between 4% and 7% in the long run (OECD, 2000a; OECD, 2003b). Adult learning is an important additional input into the development of human capital, with a strong positive impact on productivity, innovation and employment chances of individuals (OECD, 2001a; OECD, 2004a; Ok and Tergeist, 2003). Furthermore, recent analysis has shown considerable returns to the working-age adult who resumes formal education to obtain upper secondary or tertiary-level degrees (Blöndal et al., 2002; OECD, 2004b).
  • Participation in Adult Learning
    This chapter lays the groundwork for the policy sections that follow. It provides a broad picture of participation in adult learning in 17 OECD countries, highlighting disparities in provision. It then examines participation patterns by sub-group, focusing on gender, age, educational attainment and labour force status. A new participation indicator combining incidence and duration of adult learning participation is also presented. The chapter concludes with a look at possible barriers to optimal outcomes.
  • Increasing and Promoting the Benefits of Adult Learning
    This chapter focuses on ways of promoting and improving the benefits of adult learning. To overcome the obstacles of lack of interest or lack of time, adults need to be motivated into learning. One way of providing that motivation is to clarify the benefits of adult learning. Economic benefits are normally expressed in terms of wages, employment and labour productivity. There can also be other, non-economic benefits such as greater self-esteem and increased social interaction. This chapter argues for improved visibility of economic, social and/or personal rewards for learning as a way to motivate adults to learn. It promotes improving information and evidence on returns and removing structural impediments to increase these returns, either through the recognition of prior learning, adequate certification of skills, the provision of useful course content and better information and guidance on learning opportunities.
  • Financing Adult Learning
    This chapter examines several broad areas of financing policies aimed at reducing under-provision and increasing the effectiveness of adult learning. Special attention is paid to those likely to address the needs of low-skilled adults and small-sized firms. Funding mechanisms that co-finance adult learning expenses by firms, or that allow greater choice to individuals, can raise the efficiency of provision. The chapter presents, among other things, the varying benefits and drawbacks of profit tax deductions and levy-grant schemes for firms, and of individual learning accounts and vouchers for individuals. What is most important is to target these schemes appropriately.
  • Improving Delivery and Quality Control
    This chapter provides an analysis of different institutional arrangements in place for learning, including programmes based at the firm and workplace levels, which remain the principle locations of learning for most adults of working age. Overall, experience from the review countries highlights the importance of delivering flexible learning arrangements that are targeted to the specific needs of the populations concerned. Furthermore, adults are more likely to participate in adult learning programmes if the learning supply is one of quality. Poor-quality programmes and lack of knowledge of programme results, on the other hand, can easily reduce investment as well as participation. Thus, quality control and programme evaluation should be considered integral components of adult learning systems. Throughout the chapter, special attention is put on programmes for low-skilled adults.
  • Ensuring Policy Co-ordination and Coherence
    Adult learning is a complex policy field. Different stakeholders are involved in the policy definition and design process, such as ministries of education, labour and welfare, the social partners and other agencies. Decisions are made at central, regional or local level, and sometimes at different levels concurrently. The different types of stakeholders and levels of government involved may result in conflicting interests, policies that run counter to the objectives of improving adult skills, and wasteful public expenditures. To avoid duplication, ensure effective use of public finances and develop user-friendly systems, adult learning must be co-ordinated with related areas where policy will complement rather than conflict – i.e. initial education, employment and other social policies. The creation of adapted institutions for adult learning policy formulation and programme delivery and the establishment of clear policy priorities through target-setting are effective ways to get a diverse range of actors to work towards common goals.
  • Annexes
    There are two drawbacks with the standard indicator of adult learning participation (i.e. the standard participation rate, or SPR) for purposes of international comparison. First, it does not take into account differences in the duration of learning. Second, the reference period for which the SPR is measured differs across countries.1 These drawbacks can be addressed by harmonising adult learning statistics around a new common indicator we call the adjusted participation rate, or APR. The text below describes how the APR is defined and calculated...
  • Add to Marked List
Visit the OECD web site