In 2012 71,900 people aged 16-74 took part in lifelong learning, either in school or other education with an instructor, 32.1% of the population. The share of the population aged 16-74 taking part in lifelong learning has somewhat increased since 2003. In 2003, 28.3% of the population took part in lifelong learning but the proportion was greatest in 2006 when it was 33.1%.

The age group 25-64 year olds is the most active age group on the labour market. In 2012, 27.1% of this age group attended lifelong learning, 43,700 people, more than ever before since the start of these measurements in 2003.

More women than men take part in lifelong learning
The proportion of women taking part in lifelong learning is higher than among men. In 2012, 35.2% of women aged 16-74 took part in some type of education, including those who attended school, but 29.1% of men (table 1). Women were more numerous among those attending courses, students in school and among those in other types of learning. The participation of males and females among those who have only completed basic education was almost the same, while considerably more females than males took part in education among those who have completed upper secondary education or tertiary education.

Table 1. Participation of 16-74 year olds in lifelong learning by sex and educational attainment in 2012
  Total  Males  Females
Total  32.1% 29.1% 35.2%
Basic education 31.2% 31.1% 31.3%
Upper secondary education 30.4% 26.7% 36.1%
Tertiary education 35.8% 30.9% 39.5%


Almost 42% of unemployed took part in lifelong learning in 2012
Participation in lifelong learning is greater among the unemployed and among those who are not in the labour force than among employed people. A total of 34.7% of 16-74 year olds who were not in the labour force took part in lifelong learning in 2012, 41.9% of unemployed and 30.9% of employed people. Lifelong learning includes formal education in school, and many young people who are not in the labour force are students.

Figure 1 depicts the participation of unemployed, employed and people not in the labour force in lifelong learning. The figure shows that between 2008 and 2009 the proportion of unemployed aged 16-74 taking part in lifelong learning dropped from 47.2% to 35.9%. On the other hand the number of unemployed people in lifelong learning increased at the same time from 2,600 to 4,700, but due to the large increase in unemployment between these two years the proportion of unemployed people in lifelong learning dropped.

 

People with more education are more likely to participate in lifelong learning outside of school
A total of 35,900 people took part in lifelong learning outside of school, e.g. attended courses, lectures or conferences; 16.0% of the 16-74 year old population. Lifelong learning outside of formal education is attended more by those who are more educated. In the 25-64 years old age group, 18.6% of the population attended some type of lifelong learning outside of school in 2012, 30,000 people. Among those who had completed tertiary education, 28.4% took part in lifelong learning outside of school, 15.4% of those who had completed upper secondary education and 10.9% of those who had only completed basic education.

 


Participation in lifelong learning is greater in Iceland than in most other European countries
Iceland was in third place among 35 European countries in participation in lifelong learning among 25-64 year olds in 2012, with 27.3% taking part. Only in Denmark (31.6%) and Switzerland (29.9%) was the rate of participation in lifelong learning greater than in Iceland. The average among the 28 EU countries was 9.0%. Participation in lifelong learning was greater in northwestern Europe than in the southern and eastern parts of the continent.

About the data
The data are based on the Statistics Iceland Labour force survey. The Labour force survey is based on international definitions and standards. Since 2003 Statistics Iceland has conducted a continuous Labour force survey with quarterly results. The sample size is around 3,800 individuals with a response rate of 80-85%. The sample frame includes all Icelandic and foreign citizens aged 16–74 who are registered in the National register of the population and are residing in Iceland. The total sample size in 2012 was 15,631. When those who had passed away and those who were living abroad had been deducted from the sample the net sample was 15,284 persons. The total number of usable answers was 12,687 which correspond to an 83.2% response rate. All results have been weighted by age and sex.

Not in the labour market refers to those who are neither employed nor unemployed.

Lifelong learning includes all types of education that a person attends, both formal education in school and education out of school, such as a course, lecture or a conference.

Statistics