Nearly 1 in 5 adults in education or training

In 2017, over 1.7 million people in the Netherlands between the ages of 25 and 65 years participated in a form of adult learning. This concerned formal education such as secondary vocational education (MBO) or higher professional education (HBO), as well as courses and workshops. This is evident from newly released figures by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) on adult participation in learning.

The Dutch government supports ‘lifelong learning’, enabling adults - whether in work or not - to acquire sufficient skills and knowledge to be or remain active in the labour market for the long term. Compared to other EU countries, relatively many adults in the Netherlands participate in learning: over 19 percent in 2017. Only in the Scandinavian countries, this share is even higher. In Sweden, more than three in ten adults engage in education or training, followed by Finland and Denmark. The Netherlands and France complete the top five of countries.

Participation rate in education or training, 2017 (% of 25 to 64-year-olds)
 Partcipation in education or training
Sweden30.4
Finland27.4
Denmark26.8
Netherlands19.1
France18.7
Luxembourg17.2
Estonia17.2
Austria15.8
United Kingdom14.3
Slovenia12
EU-2810.9
Malta10.6
Spain9.9
Portugal9.8
Czech Republic9.8
Ireland8.9
Belgium8.5
Germany8.4
Italy7.9
Latvia7.5
Cyprus6.9
Hungary6.2
Lithuania5.9
Greece4.5
Poland4
Slovakia3.4
Croatia2.3
Bulgaria2.3
Romania1.1

More adult participation in learning

In 2017, over 19 percent of the adult population participated in education or training activities. This was still around 16 percent more than ten years previously. As a result, the Netherlands has long met the European standard for lifelong learning for 2020, set at 15 percent. The EU average stood at nearly 11 percent in 2017. For 2020, the Netherlands has set itself the objective of a lifelong learning participation rate of 20 percent among adults aged 25 to 64 years. This national target has not yet been reached. The share of adults participating in learning has been well above the average of the 28 EU countries.

Participation rate in education or training (% of 25 to 64-year-olds)
 EU-28Netherlands
20049.116.4
20059.615.9
20069.615.9
20079.417
20089.517.4
20099.517.4
2010*9.317
20119.117.1
20129.216.9
2013*10.717.9
201410.818.3
201510.718.9
201610.818.8
201710.919.1
Source: CBS, Eurostat

Most programmes either shorter than one week or longer than 3 years

In 2017, 23 percent of adults received education or training with a duration of less than one week. Over the past four years, the number of participants has increased most significantly in these short training programmes.
In addition, nearly one-quarter took part in a longer programme of three years or more. These are predominantly young adults who are still in formal education, for example at MBO, HBO or university (WO) level. Over half of young adults (25 to 29-year-olds) engaged in such programmes with a duration of three years or more. These generally concerned government-funded education.

Duration of education or training, 2017 (% of 25 to 64-year-olds in education or training)
 Length of education
Less than 1 week22.7
1 to 4 weeks6.2
1 to 3 months8.4
3 to 6 months10.3
6 to 12 months8.5
1 to 2 years8.8
2 to 3 years8.5
3 years or more23.7

4 in 10 study less than 7 hours per week

More than 42 percent of adults engaging in education or training in 2017 had fewer than 7 teaching hours per week. There are also relatively many education programmes or training courses with 7 to 12 teaching hours per week (23 percent). Slightly over 12 percent took part in programmes with 25 or more weekly teaching hours. The number of hours spent on learning has barely changed in recent years.

Number of teaching hours of education or training, 2017
 Number of teaching hours per week
Fewer than 7 hours per week42.4
7 to 12 hours per week22.8
13 to 18 hours per week7.6
19 to 24 hours per week6.4
25 or more hours per week12.4
Unknown8.4

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