Culture, Tourism and the Centre for Education Statistics
Lifelong Learning Among Canadians Aged 18 to 64 Years: First Results from the 2008 ASETS
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This report presents an overview of the first findings from the Access and Support to Education and Training Survey (2008). Lifelong learning is considered a crucial element of a knowledge-based economy and the ASETS provides insights into Canadians participation in lifelong learning, barriers to participation, costs of education and training and savings intentions for the next generation of postsecondary participants.
According to ASETS almost half (47%) of Canadians aged 18 to 64 participated in some type of education or training whether it be for personal interest or their career or job. The proportion of adult Canadians aged 25 to 64 who participated in job-related education or training increased to 36% from 30% in 2002. This increase suggests that Canadians are recognizing the importance of participating in learning activities for improving knowledge and skills in response to changing labour market demands and achieving labour market success. It is interesting to note that the most pronounced increases in job-related education or training were observed among those with lower participation rates in 2002, notably those with lower levels of education and older Canadians. This result indicates that individuals who are traditionally less likely to engage in lifelong learning are increasingly participating in training and education.
Forty-one percent of adult Canadians aged 25 to 64 had not participated in learning activities over a prolonged period of time (6 years) and could be considered as being disengaged in lifelong learning. This proportion is an improvement from 2002 when 48% of adult Canadians were identified as being disengaged in lifelong learning. However given that education and training are strong predictors of personal and socioeconomic wellbeing and contribute to Canada's productivity, it is noteworthy that two in five adult Canadians are not engaged in lifelong learning.
Almost one third of Canadians aged 18 to 64 reported that there was training or education that they had wanted or needed to take in 2008 but did not. The reasons reported by adult Canadians for not undertaking further education or training have shifted over time. While financial barriers were more often cited as obstacles to participating in learning activities in 2002, in 2008 Canadians were more likely to cite non-financial barriers such as training conflicted with their work schedule or family responsibilities. Additionally, barriers to participating in learning activities differed for youth aged 18 to 24 and adults aged 25 to 64.Training costs were the most important reason why youth did not pursue further education or training while family responsibilities was the most important reason cited by adults.
The ASETS reveal three initial insights into financing of postsecondary education for current participants as well as future participants. First, the use of sources of financing for postsecondary education has changed over a six-year period between 2002 and 2008. In 2008, a higher proportion of students aged 18 to 24 years used grants, bursaries and scholarships while a lower proportion of students received financial assistance from family members and government and non-government student loans. Secondly, for the first time ASETS provides information of the differences in sources of financing between Canadian youth and adults: adults aged 25 to 64 were generally more likely to use non-government student loans and less likely to use government student loans compared to younger students. And thirdly, the ASETS revealed that 68% of children whose parents expected them to go beyond high school had savings compared to 43% in 1999 and 52% in 2002.The ASETS is a rich and comprehensive data source on education and training among Canadians and can be used to further explore the findings presented in this overview report. For example, research could be undertaken in order to fully understand the increased participation in education and training among specific population groups by examining attitudes towards learning and objectives for taking job-related education or training. ASETS could be used to identify the characteristics of adult Canadians who were considered disengaged in lifelong learning and whether they differ in their attitudes towards learning or in terms of the barriers preventing participation compared to those who were engaged in lifelong learning. With respect to financing of postsecondary education, ASETS can be used to further explore whether the change in the mix of financing sources over time is concentrated within specific population groups or related to program characteristics, whether the amount of money used from each source has changed and how does each source of financing contributes to the overall program expenses.