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Adult learning

How many people participate in adult education activities?


Adult education activities are formal activities including basic skills training, apprenticeships, work-related courses, personal interest courses, English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, and part-time college or university degree programs. This fact examines the participation rates of individuals age 16 or older in adult education activities.

Overall participation in adult education among individuals age 16 or older increased from 40 percent in 1995 to 46 percent in 2001 and then declined to 44 percent in 2005. In 2005, among the various types of adult education activities, individuals age 16 or older participated most in work-related courses (27 percent), followed by personal interest courses (21 percent), part-time college or university degree programs (5 percent), and other activities (3 percent).

Participation rates varied by sex, age, race/ethnicity, employment/occupation, and education in 2005. For example, a greater percentage of females than males participated in personal interest courses (24 vs. 18 percent) and work-related activities (29 vs. 25 percent). Individuals ages 1624 had a higher overall participation rate in adult education activities than their counterparts age 55 or older. Blacks and Whites had higher rates of overall participation in adult education than their Hispanic peers. Among those employed in the past 12 months, the overall participation rate in adult education was higher for those in a professional or managerial occupation (70 percent) than for those employed in service, sales, or support jobs (48 percent) or those in trade occupations (34 percent). In addition, the overall participation rate in adult education for bachelor's degree recipients or higher was greater than for those individuals who had some college or less education.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2007). The Condition of Education 2007 (NCES 2007-064), Indicator 10.

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