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Adult learning

Question:
How many people participate in adult education activities?

Response:

This Fast Fact presents 2016 data on U.S. adults’ preparation for the workforce, focusing on nondegree work credentials and work experience programs. Nondegree work credentials include occupational certifications and licenses.1 A certification is an occupational credential awarded by a certification body—such as a professional association or certifying board—based on an individual demonstrating through an examination process that he or she has acquired the designated knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform a specific job. A license is an occupational credential awarded by a government agency that constitutes legal authority to do a specific job. Work experience programs include internships, co-ops, practicums, clerkships, externships, residencies, clinical experiences, apprenticeships, and similar programs. In 2016, some 6 percent of noninstitutionalized 16- to 65-year-olds who were not enrolled in high school (referred to as adults in this indicator) reported having a certification, 18 percent reported having a license, and 21 percent reported having completed a work experience program.


Percentage of 16- to 65-year-olds who have work credentials or have completed a work experience program, by highest level of education: 2016

The data in this figure is described in the surrounding text.

1 A certification is an occupational credential awarded by a certification body-such as a professional association or certifying board-based on an individual demonstrating through an examination process that he or she has acquired the designated knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform a specific job; examples include Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification and medical technician certification.

2 A license is an occupational credential awarded by a government agency that constitutes legal authority to do a specific job; examples include a medical license and an electrician's license.

3 A work experience program is defined in the survey as an internship, co-op, practicum, clerkship, externship, residency, clinical experience, apprenticeship, or similar program.

NOTE: Survey respondents were noninstitutionalized 16- to 65-year-olds who were not enrolled in high school at the time of sampling (although they could be enrolled in college). "Work credentials" include only certifications and licenses. They do not include postsecondary degrees and certificates. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded estimates.


In 2016, the percentages of 16- to 65-year-olds with certifications, with licenses, and who had completed work experience programs were higher for those with a college degree (referred to as college graduates) than for those without a college degree (referred to as non-college graduates). Some 43 percent of adults with a graduate or professional degree, 23 percent with a bachelor's degree, and 25 percent with an associate's degree reported having a license, compared with 15 percent of those with some college but no degree, 9 percent of those who completed high school (or equivalency), and 4 percent of those who had not completed high school. Similarly, the percentage of adults who reported having a certification was higher for those with a graduate or professional degree (10 percent), a bachelor's degree (8 percent), and an associate's degree (9 percent) than for those with some college but no degree (6 percent), high school completion (or equivalency) (3 percent), and less than high school completion (2 percent). In addition, the percentage of adults who reported that they had completed a work experience program was highest for those with a graduate or professional degree (56 percent), followed by those with a bachelor's degree (37 percent), an associate's degree (26 percent), some college but no degree (13 percent), and high school completion (or equivalency) (7 percent), and was lowest for those with less than high school completion (3 percent).

1 "Work credentials" refer to certifications or licenses that document adults' skill attainment. They do not include postsecondary degrees and certificates. Examples of certifications include Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification and medical technician certification. Examples of licenses include a medical license and an electrician's license. Detailed definitions for each type of nondegree credential are available at https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/gemena/definitions.asp.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2018). The Condition of Education 2018 (NCES 2018-144), Nondegree Work Credentials and Work Experience Programs.

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