Around 40,400 inhabitants in Iceland aged 25-64 took part in lifelong learning in 2019, 21.6% of the population in this age group. The participation has increased slightly from 2018 but has decreased since 2015 when 27.5% of the population took part in lifelong learning.
More 25-64 year olds attended school in 2019 than in previous years while participation in other categories of learning, such as courses and lectures outside school with an instructor (e.g. conferences), was similar as in 2018.
Participation was greatest among those with tertiary education
Participation in lifelong learning was greatest among those with tertiary education, but 27.5% of those aged 25-64 participated in lifelong learning in 2019. The proportion was lower among those who had completed upper secondary education, a little more than 20%, and lowest among those who had solely completed basic education, just over 11%.
Women were over 56% of all 25-64 year olds who participated in lifelong learning, or 22,700, but men were 17,700 in total. The rate of participation in lifelong learning was highest among 16-24 year olds, or 63.5%, but a considerable part of this age group consists of students at the upper secondary and tertiary levels. The participation rate was lowest among 55-74 year olds, or 11.6%.
Lifelong learning outside of school more common
In total, 24,900 persons aged 25-64 took part in lifelong learning outside of school in 2019. Thereof, about 12,800 persons took courses and 12,900 took part in other learning with an instructor, such as attending a conference. About 19,500 persons in this age group were students. The number of students has increased considerably in recent years, but they were 16,700 in 2016.
The majority of participants in lifelong learning were employed
A large majority of participants in lifelong learning were employed; 34,800 persons. In this group participation in lifelong learning was greater outside of school (over 14%) than inside (8.5%). When examining the whole labour force, it can be observed that 23.3% of unemployed 25-64 year olds took part in lifelong learning, 22.1% of those who were not in the labour force and 21.5% of those who were employed. Formal school education is included in lifelong learning, but many of the younger ones, who are not in the labour force, are students.
More participation than in most other European countries
Iceland was in fifth place among 35 European countries in participation in lifelong learning among 25-64 year olds in 2019. Only in Sweden (34.3%), Switzerland (32.3%), Finland (29.0%) and Denmark (25.3%) was the rate of participation in lifelong learning greater than in Iceland. The average for the 28 member states in the European Union was 11.3%.
About the data
The data are obtained from the Statistics Iceland Labour Force Survey. The Labour Force Survey is an European survey based on international definitions and standards. The sample frame includes all Icelandic and foreign citizens aged 16–74 residing in Iceland. The total sample size in 2019 was 19,959. When those who had passed away and those who were living abroad had been deducted from the sample the net sample was 19,533 persons. The total number of usable answers was 12,085 which correspond to a 61.9% 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. The same individual can both take part in a course, in other education or training and attend school, but each individual is only counted once in the totals.