Almost one out of every four 25-64 year old inhabitants (about 40 thousand) participated in lifelong learning in 2016, over 3% decrease from the previous year. Participation in lifelong learning has not been this low since 2004 but in 2015 there was a large increase from the year before in the number of people taking part in lifelong learning. The decrease in participation in 2016 is in all categories, be it conferences, courses in school, or lectures outside school with an instructor. The same applies to the 16-74 year olds, where 28.2% of the population participated in lifelong learning in 2016, a decrease of 4.3 percentage points from the year before.

Most participants in lifelong learning with tertiary education
Every third participant in lifelong learning in 2016 had completed tertiary education, or about 22,700 persons. The proportion gets smaller as the education level decreases. Thus, 20.9% of those who have completed upper secondary education participated in lifelong learning, but 13.3% of those who have completed basic education only.

The number of women who took part in lifelong learning in 2016 decreased somewhat more than the number of men. In 2016, 27.7% of women aged 25-64 years participated in some kind of lifelong learning, which is a decrease of 4.4 percentage points between years. At the same time, the proportion of men participating in lifelong learning decreased by 2.2 percentage points, to 20.8%. In spite of fewer women participating in lifelong learning in 2016 than in 2015, there were still more women than men who took part; 17,800 men and 23,100 women.

Participation in lifelong learning more common outside of school
In total, 28,700 persons aged 25-64 took part in lifelong learning outside school in 2016. About 15,800 persons took courses and 14,500 took part in other learning with an instructor. In addition, 16,700 persons took part in lifelong learning in school. In 2016, people with tertiary education were most likely to take part in lifelong learning and people with basic education least likely, whether learning inside or outside of school.

Less participation in lifelong learning among the unemployed and the inactive
Unemployed persons or those not in the labour force participated less in lifelong learning in 2016 than the year before. Participation of persons outside the labour force decreased by 8.2 percentage points between years and by 5.7 percentage points for the unemployed. At the same time participation among the employed decreased by 2.7 percentage points. Still, the proportion of those taking part in lifelong learning was highest among the unemployed. About 1,000 unemployed persons participated in some kind of lifelong learning or 28.1%. Approximately 36,300 of employed persons took part in lifelong learning (24.3%).

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. 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 2016 was 15,783. When those who had passed away and those who were living abroad had been deducted from the sample the net sample was 15,319 persons. The total number of usable answers was 11,220 which correspond to a 73.2% response rate. All results have been weighted by age and sex.

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.