WALES

Adult education

Graphs on this page:

Supporting information:

Key points

  • Half of unskilled and partly skilled adults (socio-economic groups D and e) have not taken part in any ‘learning activity’ since leaving formal education.  This compares to one in three for adults from skilled manual and non-manual backgrounds (socio-economic group C) and one in five from professional and managerial backgrounds (socio-economic groups A and B).
  • Three-quarters of people from unskilled or partly-skilled backgrounds report no recent or current involvement in adult learning, compared with two-thirds of people from skilled manual backgrounds and a half of people from non-manual, professional and managerial backgrounds. 1
  • The figures relating to aspirations to learn in the future show a similar picture.  Three-quarters of people from unskilled and partly skilled backgrounds report that they are unlikely to participate in learning in the future, compared with two-thirds of those from skilled manual backgrounds and a half of those from non-manual backgrounds. 2
  • Standardised Participation Rates for the major types of adult learning (further education, higher education and training) for those aged 16 and over and living in the area are highest in rural parts of Wales (Conwy, Carmarthenshire, Monmouthshire and Denbighshire), and lowest in the Valleys, Cardiff and Wrexham. 3
  • The highest participation rates in further education for adults over the age of 18 (the largest component of adult education) are in Conwy, Denbighshire and Neath Port Talbot, and the lowest in Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff. 4
  • Half of all adults over the age of 19 in further education are from the least deprived quarter of all electoral wards.  By contrast, only one in seven are from the most deprived quarter of wards. 5
  • The highest participation rates for training are in Blaenau Gwent, Torfaen, Vale of Glamorgan, and Neath Port Talbot.  The lowest rates are in Cardiff, Monmouthshire and Flintshire. 6
  • Personal development, work-related reasons, and education/progression are the most common reasons given for participating in learning (over half of current or recent learners state these reasons).  Reasons of personal development are more common among women, and work-related reasons are more common among men. 7
  • Reported benefits of learning include personal development, increased self-confidence and meeting new people.  Men are more likely than women to report increased earnings or a tangible impact on their work situation as a result of learning. 8

Definitions and data sources

The first graph shows the proportion of adults aged 17 and over who have not studied or learnt since leaving school, with the data broken down by social class.  According to this socio-economic classification, AB represents professional/managerial; C1 intermediate and junior non manual; C2 manual skilled; and DE partly skilled or unskilled.

The data source for the first graph is the NIACE Survey on Adult Participation in Learning in Wales 2002 and 2003, with the results for the two years combined (the data is not publicly available).  The data includes all types of learning, both informal and formal, and training.

The second graph shows the ‘Standardised Participation Rates’ (SPRs) for all types of post-16 learning (higher education, further education and training) for each local authority.

The SPR is the number of learners living in an area divided by the expected number of learners (taking into account age and gender profiles) for each authority, multiplied by 100.  An SPR of less/more than 100 indicates that there are fewer/more learners living in that authority than would be expected based on the Welsh national averages.

The data source for the second graph is a calculation carried out by ELWa based on administrative data for 2000-2001 (the data is not publicly available).

Overall adequacy: limited.  In the first graph, questions have been raised over the breadth of the definition of ‘learning’ used in the survey and the sample size is relatively small.  In the second graph, the composite index masks different patterns of SPRs in higher education, further education and training.  Also, some forms of adult learning are excluded, for example ELWa-funded community learning provided by local authorities.

1. Survey on adult participation in learning in Wales, NIACE Dysgu Cymru, 2002 and 2003. 
2. Survey on adult participation in learning in Wales, NIACE Dysgu Cymru, 2002 and 2003. 
3. Regional analysis of participation in further education and training in Wales, 1999/2000 and 2000/2001, ELWa, 2003. 
4. Higher education, further education and training statistics in Wales, 2002/03, ELWa, 2004. 
5. Higher education, further education and training statistics in Wales, 2002/03, ELWa, 2004. 
6. Higher education, further education and training statistics in Wales, 2002/03, ELWa, 2004. 
7. Survey on adult participation in learning in Wales, NIACE Dysgu Cymru, 2002 and 2003. 
8. Survey on adult participation in learning in Wales, NIACE Dysgu Cymru, 2002 and 2003.