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  • The findings give a mixed message regarding the acceptance of the principles of adult learning. If the category “other” is included in the total participation rate for 2002 there is a marked increase in the rate of participation in adult education and training between the IALS and ALL survey periods. However, if the comparison is restricted to changes in participation in courses and programmes, it is only Switzerland that can register any noticeable increase in participation rates.
  • There are still substantial regional discrepancies in participation in adult education and training in Canada. However, based on a comparison of IALS and ALL the differences have been declining.
  • The findings confirm that not only do Canadians report a somewhat lower participation rate than citizens in the three other countries but they also spend less time on their studies.
  • Employer finance plays a central role in supporting opportunities to engage in adult learning in all countries. This is particularly the case in Norway where 63 percent of the participants received direct financial support from their employer as compared to 50 percent in Canada.
  • Close to one in five Norwegians with low literacy skills get support from the government as compared to just over one in ten in Canada. Government support for those with low literacy skills (Levels 1 and 2) is less frequent in Canada than in the United States.
  • Adults within specific vulnerable groups who have medium to high literacy skills (Levels 3 and 4/5) are substantially more likely to participate in adult education and training than adults in the same group but who instead have low literacy skills (Levels 1 and 2). This points to the significance of literacy skills in facilitating individuals capabilities of coping with, and participating in, the emerging knowledge society and information economy, even among adults considered to be the most vulnerable to exclusion. It also suggests the importance and urgency of supporting adult basic skills programmes.
  • Canada has witnessed a dramatic decrease in government support for adult education and training of those not in the labour force.
  • A large proportion of adults with poor foundation skills (i.e., low literacy skills) are still not being reached by organized forms of adult learning. But there are significant differences in participation patterns among countries, suggesting that differences in adult learning policy do matter.
  • The findings confirm the compounding effect of intergenerational educational attainment on readiness to participate in adult education and training.
  • There are only minor gender differences in participation in adult education and training. However, a larger share of women compared to men relies on self-financing while the latter more often receive employer-sponsored adult education and training.
  • In all countries, native-born adults participate more often than immigrants; the differences are particularly significant in Canada and the United States.
  • The results confirm previous findings that more or less everybody is engaged in some form of informal learning.
  • The findings show that while everyone seems to be engaged in some form of informal learning activity, vulnerable groups, as identified by a low level of education and low level of literacy skills, report a substantially lower engagement in many of the informal activities for which data is made available by ALL.
  • ALL discloses how strongly participation in adult education and training has become linked to the world of work.
  • Job and workplace characteristics like firm size, type of industry and occupation, and supervisory position impact on the likelihood of benefiting from employer sponsored education and training, as do levels of engagement in literacy and numeracy practices on the job.