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The Role of Adult Lifelong Learning in Preventing Social Exclusion

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The Role of Adult Lifelong Learning in Preventing Social Exclusion Anna Rita Manca and Cynthia Villalba European Commission-Joint Research Centre Centre for Research on Lifelong Learning (CRELL) [email protected] [email protected] 6 th June 2010

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The Role of Adult Lifelong Learning in Preventing Social Exclusion

Anna Rita Manca and Cynthia Villalba

European Commission-Joint Research Centre

Centre for Research on Lifelong Learning (CRELL)

[email protected]

[email protected]

6th June 2010

LLAKES International Conference

University of London

the project on social cohesion
The Project on Social Cohesion
  • “The capacity of society to ensure the well-being of all its members, minimizing disparities and avoiding marginalization”
  • Council of Europe
  • (
overarching concepts
Overarching Concepts

Social cohesion involves inclusion/exclusion, the latter of which ‘straddle’ other concepts such as deprivation, class, and poverty Omtzigt (2009:7).

Omtzigt reviews the multiple definitions of social inclusion/exclusion and their operationalization, arriving at Walker and Walker (1997:8):

Social exclusion is the “dynamic process of being shut out…from any of the social, economic, political and cultural systems which determine the social integration of a person in society”.

employability learning to gain and maintain employment and occupational mobility
Employability: learning to gain and maintain employment and occupational mobility

The Role of LLL

Education and in particular, lifelong learning, are widely thought to facilitate social inclusion and cohesion via:

  • Social engagement and participation: learning about society, acquiring social and civic skills, knowledge and culture
The Role of LLL

A Memorandum on Lifelong Learning (SEC 2000) stresses as much, that the aims of LLL are “promoting active citizenship and promoting employability” - but this marked a shift away from the economistic LLL ideology in EU policy strategy in the 1980s (Rubenson 2002).

There is an emphasis on individual responsibility for learning.

The Role of LLL

A broad approach to learning throughout the lifespan, in different settings, lifelong learning:

"encompasses all purposeful learning activity, whether formal or informal, undertaken on an ongoing basis with the aim of improving knowledge, skills and competence" (SEC 2000)

LLL for all is conditional upon “a society where people are encouraged to think, act, and be engaged.” (Rubenson 2002: 247)

Previous Research
  • Research on LLL provides us with clues on…
  • “The long arm of the family ” (home)
    • Parental background
    • Initial educational attainment
  • “The long arm of the job”
    • Employment status and occupation type
    • Employer characteristics (firm size and type, etc.)
Previous Research
  • “The long arm of the job”
  • Highly skilled workers are more likely to engage in learning (OECD 2005)
  • Employers sponsor most adult learning activity, especially firms with more than 250 employees (OECD, 2005 referring to CVTS survey)
  • Learning is often work-related but “lack of time” due to work (or family) is barrier (OECD 2005 referring to CEDEFOP survey)
previous research
Previous Research
  • Low-skilled and temporary workers seek adult learning but find supply is limited (OECD 2005)
  • In some countries the unemployed and those not seeking work in the labour market participate more (OECD 2005 referring to LFS) but the employed engage more on average in adult LLL
previous research1
Previous Research
  • Other key individual socio-demographic determinants/factors influencing participation:
    • Age (participation declines with age)
      • (Biagetti, et al 2009; Eurostat 2009, etc.)
    • Gender (diverse findings)
    • Place of residence (urbanisation)
      • (Eurostat 2009 – referring to AES)
Guiding Questions
  • What are the main characteristics of those adults who engage (or do not engage) in learning/study activity in Europe?
  • To what extent do living conditions influence adult participation in further study activities?
Methodological Aspects

The Model:

Fixed effects Logistic Model

  • Explanatory variables:
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Education level
  • Parental education background
  • ISCO
  • Level of Urbanisation
  • Role of Unemployment
  • Material conditions of housing
  • Ability to overcome economic obstacles
  • Poverty indicator
  • Durable goods

Dependent variable:

Engagement in study in the previous year (yes=1)

secondary data source eu silc
Secondary Data Source – EU-SILC
  • EU-SILC (Eurostat) cross-sectional (2005). Reference year 2004/2005.
  • Data from 15 countries included in the present models:

Austria Spain

Belgium Finland

Cyprus France

Czech Republic Greece

Germany Hungary

Denmark Ireland

Estonia Iceland


People outside the LM are more

likely to participate

The more educated,

the more participation in LLL

The more they are able

to overcome economic obstacles,

the more they participate in LLL

People at risk of poverty are more

likely to participate

Durable goods play a role

in the decision of performing LLL

key findings
Key Findings
  • Individual socio-demographic characteristics:
  • Findings in the literature confirmed – age, previous education level, parental education (social background) and occupation significant factors…
  • …but the picture is complex
key findings1
Key Findings

Full model presents challenges for interpretation:

Although ‘at risk of poverty’ is significant, those who are out of the LM, who do not have the capacity to eat meat to afford durable goods and cannot make ends meet still can afford a one week holiday and face unexpected expenses…

Living conditions among these groups are not extreme, but they face some difficulties relative to others.

findings age and occupation
Findings – Age and Occupation
  • Age – Across the age cohorts living conditions and standards ‘improve’ though we can characterize this in different ways as they have different types of challenges
  • Occupation and age groups (skills level, ISCO) for youngest is significant (+)  more skilled, more participation
  • 30-34 and up (-)  less skilled…
  • 40-44 is positive again
  • 45 and up, not significant. For lower secondary (ISCED 2) it is negative and for upper (ISCED 3), not significant
key findings2
Key Findings

The relatively younger the more important the variables are for LLL.

‘Out of the labour market’ is more decisive for older groups, i.e., has more of an impact on participation in study.

Role of employment - Education level plays major role in respect to employment status: Low education groups out of the LM are more likely to participate. Higher education groups in the LM have an increased probability of participating.

conclusions further research
Conclusions – Further Research
  • Is ‘lifelong learning’ – participation in any kind of study – a means for preventing (own and others’) social exclusion and promoting (own and others’) well-being?
  • Do people participate despite or because of their living conditions?