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UK risks falling behind post-Brexit

Skills for Life Network


Learning and Work Institute’s adult participation in learning survey has been tracking the number of adults taking part in education or training since 1996.

The most recent data shows that just one in three adults (35%) have taken part in learning in the last three years, the lowest figure on record, and down from 37% in 2017. The survey showed the biggest regional gap in participation on record, with participation as low as 29% in the south west, and 30% in Yorkshire and the Humber and Northern Ireland.The number of adults taking part in learning and training has fallen to a record low according to a new survey, raising concerns that the UK is set to fall behind other countries in skills after Brexit.

The survey, which questioned 5,000 adults across the UK, identifies stark inequalities in access to learning, with participation being lowest among adults who could benefit most:

  • Age of leaving education – just 18% of adults who left education at 16 or under have taken part in learning in the last three years, compared to 45% of those who left education at 21 or older. This participation gap has widened in the last year;
  • Social class – 48% of adults in higher social grades (AB) have taken part in learning in the last three years, compared to 20% of adults in lower social grades (DE). This participation gap has widened by 3 percentage points in the last year;
  • Employment status – 40% of full time employees participated in learning in the last three years, compared to 17% of people out of work and not seeking employment;
  • Age – Older adults are far less likely to take part in learning; with each additional year of age the likelihood of an individual taking part in learning falls by 1.3%

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