Continuing education and training (CET) is learning undertaken by adults who have already completed their initial education and training and entered working life. Job-related CET helps adults to acquire new skills, in order to retrain, change career, increase their employability and for their professional development. CET can also be non-job related, i.e. for personal development, but this is not the focus of this report.

CET includes formal and non-formal education and training, as well as informal learning:

  • Formal education and training opportunities are intentional, institutionalised learning activities, which are recognised by relevant authorities and have a minimum duration of one semester. Examples include upper secondary qualifications or Bachelor degree studies.

  • Non-formal education and training includes intentional, institutionalised learning activities (e.g. short courses, workshops and seminars) which are either of short duration (less than one semester) or not recognised by the relevant authorities.

  • Informal learning is intentional learning, which is non-institutionalised, less structured than formal and non-formal learning and can take place anywhere. Examples of informal learning include learning from colleagues, friends or learning by doing

Guidance services for continuing education and training help individuals to make educational, training and occupational choices. As well as providing information, they typically offer counselling, mentoring and/or skills assessment.

Low-skilled adults are adults with low basic skills and/or low qualification levels:

  • Adults with low basic skills are individuals aged 25-64 with low proficiency in literacy, numeracy or both. These are adults who at most understand brief texts on familiar topics, and/or are able to do simple mathematical processing such as one-step calculations.

  • Adults with low qualification levels are individuals aged 25-64 whose highest educational attainment level is at most lower secondary education (ISCED 0-2).

Partial qualifications are building blocks of full qualifications. They can be acquired either to build a full qualification over time, or for specialisation or skills updating. Partial qualifications require assessment and validation to certify the learning outcomes an individual has achieved, and usually include a form of official recognition.

Qualifications are the formal outcome of an assessment and validation process, obtained when a competent authority or body determines that an individual has achieved learning outcomes according to given standards. The outcome can be a degree, diploma or other certificate. A qualification can also be a legal entitlement to practice a trade.

Validation is a process of confirming that an individual has acquired skills measured against a relevant standard. This process is conducted by an authorised body.

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