One in five adults participated in training in 2022
Statbel, the Belgian statistical office, publishes two indicators measuring lifelong learning among people aged 25-64, based on the Labour Force Survey. Last year, on average, one in five 25-64-year-olds received training: 21.5% in 2022, an increase compared to 2021, when the figure was 19.9%. The decrease due to the coronavirus crisis seems to have disappeared. If we only look at the percentage of participation in training the month before the survey, then the figure is 10.3%.
The survey examines whether a person has received training in the past four weeks or in the past year. By ‘training’ we mean here all formal and non-formal education and training. 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 goal formulated in the context of the European Education Area  in early 2021: 47% of adults (25-64) should have participated in education and training 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: 8.1% of those with at most a diploma of primary education participated in education and training, compared to 16.0% of those with a diploma of upper secondary education. 32.6% of those with a higher education diploma still participate in education and training. The participation rate in education and training is the highest in the Brussels-Capital Region with 29.1% compared to 22.4% in the Flemish Region and 17.0% in the Walloon Region. Young people aged 25-34 are more than twice as likely to participate in education and training as those aged 55-64: 27.8% vs. 12.9%. The other age groups are in between with 23.6% (35-44 years) and 21.8% (45-54 years).
The breakdown by labour market status shows that 24.8% of employed people, 17.2% of unemployed people and only 10.3% of inactive people participate in education and training. The increase among employed people is especially significant. For example, lifelong learning can help to change jobs smoothly.
If we only look at the place of work, we see that people working in the Brussels-Capital Region participate most often in education and training (29.6%), which is more than in the Flemish Region (24.8%) and the Walloon Region (18.8%).
We also see striking differences among sectors: in extraterritorial organisations, the financial sector and education, more than a third of the people participated in education and training in the past year. The six sectors with the lowest participation rate in education and training (and enough observations) are construction, administrative and support service activities, wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles, transportation and storage and accommodation and food service activities, where only less than one in five participated in education and training.
People with a temporary job participate more often in education and training (31.3%) than people with a permanent job (23.9%). Full-time employed people (24.6%) participate more often in education and training than part-time employed people (23.6%).
Training in the last four weeks, an SDG objective
In addition to the indicator on the participation in education and training in the past 12 months, the Labour Force Survey also examines the participation in education and training in the past four weeks. Only 10.3% of Belgians participated in education and training in the four weeks prior to the survey in 2022. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) aim that by 2030, 15% of the population participated in education and training in the last four weeks. So this objective is not yet achieved. This indicator has been measured since 1999, but only seems to show a slightly upward trend. We do see an increase between 2020 and 2021, but this is only an effect of the reform of the questionnaire on the results.
Women (10.9%) are slightly more likely to participate in training than men (9.7%). Low-skilled people are the least likely to participate in education and training: only 3.9% of those with at most a lower secondary education received training in the previous month. Among medium-skilled and highly-skilled people, this share amounts to 6.5% and 15.7% respectively. As far as the region is concerned, we again see that the Brussels-Capital Region registers the highest participation rate in education and training: 14.2%, which is more than in the Flemish Region (10.7%) and the Walloon Region (8.1%). Over a four-week period, unemployed people are more likely to participate in education and training (13.2%) than employed people (10.5%) and inactive people (8.8%). Young people are much more likely to participate in education and training: 15.7% of 25-34-year-olds received training in the past four weeks. This drops to 10.6% in the 35-44 age group and to 5.9% in the 55-64 age group.
People with a temporary job also more often report to have participated in education and training (19.3%) in the past weeks than people with a permanent contract (9.1%). Full-time (9.8%) and part-time (9.8%) employed people received training as often in the past four weeks.
Employed, unemployed and inactive people
The survey is harmonised at European level. The definitions regarding employment and unemployment that are mentioned are those of the International Labour Office (ILO) to allow international comparison.
People with a job (employed people) comprise all people who during the reference week performed some work ‘for wage or salary’ or ‘for profit’ regardless of the duration (even if this was only one hour), or who had a job but were temporarily absent. For example, one can be temporarily absent for holidays, illness, technical or economic reasons (temporary unemployment),....
Family workers are also included in the category ‘employed’. Since 2021, people who have been temporarily unemployed for an uninterrupted period of more than three months are counted as unemployed or inactive, and no longer as employed.
The unemployed comprise all people who:
(a) during the reference week were without work, i.e. were not in paid employment or self-employment;
(b) were available for work, i.e. were available for paid employment or self-employment within two weeks after the reference week;
(c) were actively seeking work, i.e. had taken specific steps during the last four weeks including the reference week to seek paid employment or self-employment, or who had found a job to start within a maximum period of three months.
Lifelong learning is measured using the percentage of the population that attended formal or non-formal education in the last 12 months or 4 weeks.
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.
Level of education
The level of education is measured using a detailed questionnaire, and the people are then divided into three groups.
Low-skilled people are people who list lower secondary education as their highest level of education. Medium-skilled people are people who obtained a diploma of higher secondary education but not of higher education. High-skilled people obtained a diploma of higher education.