Client: Ministry of Education and Research

Period: 2012

The aim of the project was to study learning practices of people without a vocational or higher education—in Estonia as well as in the EU as a whole, lifelong learning is considered crutial, as only lifelong learning can ensure coping in a world constantly in change. The study focused on people who have no vocational or higher education. On average, people in this category engage far less in independent learning than people with vocational or professional education.

The first significant result of the study is that if independent learning activities are examined more thoroughly, it turns out that 68…85% of people in age group 25 to 64 have been engaged in them within the past 12 months. It would therefore be wrong to conclude that this group of society does not engage in learning – it is done in a different way, relying to a significantly greater extent on informal channels. Another conclusion is that if we ask which affects engagement in learning more, general education level or completion of vocational education, it turns out that the general education level plays more significant role.

When people without a vocational or higher education were asked the reasons for which they engaged in learning, it was reported that learning about generally interesting topics are more important than acquiring work-related knowledge, although the difference is not large. A number of obstacles to learning were mentioned. Those who wished to learn more mentioned most the price of training courses, technical availability (unsuitable place or field of training) and incompatibility with work schedule, while those who didn’t wish to engage in learning reported age, health problems and family responsibilities as the the primary reasons. In particular, it should be noted that age as a reason of not engaging in learning appears to be reported by people who would conventionally be considered to be relatively young (40-49).

The study also described measures applied in other countries to support participation in lifelong learning and discussed their applicability in the Estonian context. One of the most important conclusions was that a fairly large number of measures are already being applied in Estonia and the emphasis should rather be on the evaluation of their effectiveness. In addition, some new measures were described, the application of which could be considered in Estonia.

The study was commissioned by the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research.