Statistics Canada (2009) Lifelong Learning Among Canadians Aged 18 to 64 Years: First Results from the 2008 Access and Support to Education and Training Survey Ottawa: Statistics Canada, Culture, Tourism and the Centre for Education Statistics : Research Papers) (PDF Version, 307 kb)

Some selected results

Between July 2007 and June 2008, an estimated ten million Canadians aged 18 to 64 had participated in some type of education or training whether it be for personal interest or their career or job. These learning participants represent almost half (47%) of the Canadian population aged 18 to 64.

The proportion of adult Canadians aged 25 to 64 who participated in job-related education or training increased to 36% [in 2008] 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.

Overall, almost one-quarter of education program participants took their program through distance education and the proportion that did so varied with age…. twice as many adult Canadians aged 25 to 64 used distance education compared to youth aged 18 to 24.

43% of Canadians aged 25 to 64 participated in any type of education or training. In comparison, participation rates varied across 18 European [Union] countries, ranging from 9% in Hungary to 73% in Sweden. In comparison with the 17 individual European countries, Canada’s participation rate was higher than 12 countries and lower than that in Sweden (73%), Finland (55%), the United Kingdom (49%), Denmark (45%), and Slovakia (44%)

In 2008, almost one third (32%) of Canadian adults reported that there was training or education they would like to have taken but did not, compared to just over one-quarter (26%) of adults in 2002

Family responsibilities, work and work schedule were the most common reasons why Canadians did not take further education or training.

Canadians who participated in a formal education program typically spent about $2,500 during the year. Participants were nearly twice as likely to use non-repayable sources of financing to pay for their education programs, such as bursaries or support from family, compared with repayable sources, such as loans.

This report is based on the Access and Support to Education and Training Survey (ASETS), which was undertaken by Statistics Canada in partnership with Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) between July, 2007 and June, 2008.


This is further evidence of a major demographic shift towards older students, and hence more demand for distance education and other forms of flexible delivery, in both formal education and training. It is noticeable that despite the generally high participation rates, almost one third of adults were unable to take the further education or training that they wanted, mainly due to family or work reasons, suggesting considerable room for further expansion in distance and flexible learning and training.

These results also support the view that work in the newer jobs being created in the knowledge-based economy is putting further pressure on Canadians to engage more fully in lifelong learning activities – but are our post-secondary educational institutions – and employers – gearing themselves up for this shift in demand?

From the JISC Responding to Learners Pack
From the JISC Responding to Learners Pack


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