Statbel, the Belgian statistical office, publishes two indicators measuring lifelong learning among 25-64 year olds, based on the Labour Force Survey. Last year, on average, one in five 25-64 year olds attended a training course: 19.6% in 2020, down from 2019, when the figure was 21.9%. The coronavirus crisis has most likely had an impact on that decrease.
The survey examines whether a person has attended a training course in the past four weeks or in the past year. By "training" we mean here all formal and non-formal education. Formal education is education that is recognised by the ministries of education and usually leads to a diploma or certificate such as a master's degree or a training course in adult education. Non-formal education is education outside this context but still organised in a structured way, e.g. a course on health organised by the health insurance fund or a webinar on time management organised by a self-employed. Self-study and informal learning are not included.
With one in five 25-64 year-olds, Belgium is still far below the European goals formulated in the context of the European Education Area in early 2021: 47% of adults (25-64) should have participated in learning in the last year by 2025. These figures are available for Belgium since 2005.
A breakdown into different groups shows hardly any differences by gender. However, there are clear differences by level of education: 7.5% of those with at the most a diploma of primary education participated in learning, compared to 14.8% of those with a diploma of higher secondary education. 30.0% of those with a higher education diploma still participate in learning. The education rate is the highest in the Brussels Capital Region with 26.4% as against 21.1% in the Flemish Region and 14.4% in the Walloon Region. Young people aged 25-34 are more than twice as likely to participate in training as those aged 55-64: 26.1% vs. 11.2%. The other age groups are in between with 21.8% (35-44 years) and 19.5% (45-54 years).
The breakdown by labour market status shows that 22.4% of the employed people, 19.1% of the unemployed people and only 10.6% of the inactive people participate in learning.
If we look only at the place of work, we see that people working in the Brussels Capital Region participate most often in learning (30.0%), which is more than in the Flemish Region (23.3%) and the Walloon Region (15.2%).
We also see striking differences between sectors: in extraterritorial organisations, more than half of the persons participated in training in the past year. This is therefore the only sector that meets the European goal of 47%. Financial sector and education are two sectors where about one person in three has received training. The three sectors with the lowest participation in training (and enough observations) are construction, administrative and support service activities and accommodation and food service activities.
People with a temporary job participate more often in training (27,7%) than people with a permanent job (22,2%). Full-time employed people (23.3%) participate more often in education than part-time employed people (20.5%).
Training in the last four weeks
OIn addition to the indicator on participation in learning in the past 12 months, the Labour Force Survey also examines participation in learning in the past four weeks. Only 8.2% of Belgians participated in training in the four weeks prior to the survey in 2019, and even only 7.4% in 2020. International goals are also linked to this objective. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim that by 2030, 15 per cent of the population participated in training in the last four weeks. If this trend continues, this objective will not be achieved either.
Lower educated people are the least likely to follow training: only 2.4% of those with at most a lower secondary education attended a training course in the previous month. Among the medium and highly educated, this share amounts to 4.8 and 11.9% respectively. As far as the region is concerned, we again see that the Brussels-Capital Region has the highest level of people participating in training: 10.3%, which is more than in the Flemish Region (7.7%) and the Walloon Region (5.6%). Over a four-week period, unemployed people are more likely to follow training (9.9%) than employed people (7.3%) and inactive people (7.1%). Young people are much more likely to participate in training: 12.5% of 25-34 year olds attended a training course in the past four weeks. This drops to 8.0% In the 35-44 age group and to 3.7% in the 55-64 age group.
People with a temporary job also more often declare that they participated in training (10.7%) in the past weeks than people with a permanent contract (6.7%). Full-time (6.9%) and part-time (7.1%) employed people followed a training course nearly equally often in the past four weeks. Training was followed the month before the survey especially in the sectors 'Professional, scientific and technical activities', 'Extraterritorial organisations and bodies' and 'Information and communication' (around 12%).
In the sectors 'Construction', 'Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorbikes' and 'Transportation and storage', less than 5% of the employed persons participated in training (sectors for which we have enough observations).