Commented Data on:

Survey on Participation in Continuing Education

Between 1979 and 2007, the Reporting System on Continuing Education (Berichtssystem Weiterbildung – BSW) was the most significant national representative survey, which was conducted every third year. It has now been replaced by the European Adult Education Survey (AES), which was conducted as a pilot study in Germany and other European countries in 2007. As of 2012, the AES will be obligatorily conducted every five years as part of the EU Statistics on Lifelong Learning (Regulation (EC) No. 452/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of April 23, 2008 concerning the production and development of statistics on education and lifelong learning, section 2). In the Germany, the AES 2010 provides a voluntary intermediate result. Both, the Reporting System on Continuing Education and the AES are surveys concerning one topic only: adult learning. The surveys collect information on participation in organized forms of learning as well as informal learning activities (e.g. attendance of conferences, reading of specialized magazines).

Since BSW and AES define forms of learning differently, the participation rate measured with these concepts has limited comparable value. The AES is based on the international “Classification of Learning Activities“ by the European Commission and divides learning activities into formal learning (regular courses of education), non-formal learning (organized continuing education) and informal learning; vocational and non-vocational continuing education is measured on the participants‘ motivation for learning: private or vocational. The BSW differentiates between general and vocational continuing education from the outset based on defined learning situations.

In addition to these surveys, other regularly conducted representative surveys, such as the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) and the Microcensus, contain issues of participation in continuing education, which are less precise and include specific definitions of learning. These rates are not directly comparable to those collected in surveys which cover one topic only. Company surveys, such as the European Continuing Vocational Training Survey (CVTS) or the German IAB Company Panel, provide data on continuing education and training in the operational context.

Participation in Continuing Education in Total (1979-2007)

Table 1: Participation in Continuing Education in Total 1979–2007 (Source: v. Rosenbladt/Bilger 2008, p. 46 and 55)
Table 1: Participation in Continuing Education in Total 1979–2007 (Source: v. Rosenbladt/Bilger 2008, p. 46 and 55)

According to the results of the representative survey of the Reporting System of Continuing Education (Berichtssystem Weiterbildung - BSW), the participation in continuing education and training has increased in Germany since the late 1970s. In 1979, about 23 percent of the population between 19 and 64 years of age participated in programmes and courses of general and vocational continuing education. The participation rate increased during the following years to a peak level of 48 percent in 1997, decreased slightly during the following years and increased again in 2007. In 2007, 43 percent of all 19 to 64-year-olds in Germany attended programmes of continuing education. The participation rate increased by 3 percentage points in comparison to 2003. Over all, the participation rate increased by 20 percent between 1979 and 2007.

Participation in General and Vocational Continuing Education (2007)

Table 2: Participation Rate in Vocational and General Continuing Education in 2007 (Source: v. Rosenbladt/Bilger 2008, p. 72)
Table 2: Participation Rate in Vocational and General Continuing Education in 2007 (Source: v. Rosenbladt/Bilger 2008, p. 72)

The representative surveys Reporting System of Continuing Education (Berichtssystem Weiterbildung - BSW) and the Adult Education Survey (AES) provide data on the population’s continuing education behaviour AES results indicate that vocational continuing education cover 38 percent in 2007 – more than non-vocational activities (11%) and the vocational educational activities stated in the BSW (27%). According to the BSW, participation in general and vocational education is almost balanced (26% respectively 27%). The deviations of the BSW and ASW are due to the methodical differences of the survey and evaluation systems. The AES inquires whether the motivation for educational activities is of private or professional nature. The BSW pre-categorizes general and vocational continuing education. In addition, the personal purpose for participation in general continuing education is captured. More than half of the participants state that the participation in continuing education is entirely or partly based on professional reasons. The level of vocational education and training is almost equally high in both data sources.

Temporal Participation in General and Vocational Continuing Education (1979-2007)

Table 3: Participation Rate in General and Vocational Continuing Education in Percent 1979-2007 (Source: v. Rosenbladt/Bilger 2008, p. 226)
Table 3: Participation Rate in General and Vocational Continuing Education in Percent 1979-2007 (Source: v. Rosenbladt/Bilger 2008, p. 226)

Data collected in the Reporting System of Continuing Education (Berichtssystem Weiterbildung - BSW) indicates that the percentage of the population participating in organized forms of continuing education has overall increased since the late 1970s (see table 1). The participation rate in general and vocation continuing education has develloped accordingly. Both rate increased strongly after 1979; a peak level was reached in 1997. The participation rate in general continuing education doubled from 16 percent to 31 percent during that period: participation in vocational continuing education increased from 10 percent to 30 percent. The decrease of participation after 1997 discontinued in 2003. By now, participation rates have stabilized on that level.

The level of participation marks the difference between general and vocational continuing education. Between 1979 and 1988, participation rates in general continuing education were, on average, 5 percent higher than the participation rates in vocational continuing education. After 1988, the gap became smaller (see table 3) with vocational continuing education slightly higher than general continuing education during the past years.

Participation in Continuing Education Listed by Socio-Demographic Characteristics (2007)

Table 4: Participation in Continuing Education Listed by Socio-Demographic Characteristics 2007 in Percent (in relation to the population between 19 and 64 years of age) (Source: v. Rosenbladt/Bilger 2008, p. 227)
Table 4: Participation in Continuing Education Listed by Socio-Demographic Characteristics 2007 in Percent (in relation to the population between 19 and 64 years of age) (Source: v. Rosenbladt/Bilger 2008, p. 227)

The respresentative survey of the Report System on Continuing Education (Berichtssystems Weiterbildung - BSW) provides data on participation in organized forms of continuing education. As indicated in table 4, the participation rate in continuing education in the first two age groups until 49 years of age is relatively stable. The group of 50 to 64 year olds participated by far less in organized programmes of continuing education. This decrease in participation is related to the labour status. Participation in continuing education is greatly professionally motivated. Consequently, the participation rate decreases with the end of an active labour status and the loss of professionally motivated continuing education (see table 7).

Educational Participation in Life (2007)

Table 1: Educational Participation in Life 2007 in Percentage (Source: v. Rosenbladt/Bilger 2008, p. 134)
Table 1: Educational Participation in Life 2007 in Percentage (Source: v. Rosenbladt/Bilger 2008, p. 134)

Table 1 depicts the results of the representative (AES) which indicates the differences of participation in continuing education in life.

The focus of regular courses of education (school, vocational training, and university studies) is on the younger age group (under 25). Participation in programmes of continuing education in educational institutions, associations and at work is relatively stable in the first three age groups; a strong decrease is recorded in the age group of over 55 year-olds. The influence of age on educational participation is particularly obvious in the group of the educationally active – a group which combines participants in regular courses of education and continuing education programmes. The category of 19 to 24 year-olds cover 75 percent of the educationally active. The rate decreases with increasing age: Only 13 percent of the 65 to 80 year-olds are educationally active.

Participation in Life Listed by Educational Forms (2007)

Table 5: Participation in Life Listed by Educational Forms 2007 in Percent (Source: v. Rosenbladt/Bilger 2008, p. 134; DIE image)
Table 5: Participation in Life Listed by Educational Forms 2007 in Percent (Source: v. Rosenbladt/Bilger 2008, p. 134; DIE image)

People participate less in organized educational activities with increasing age (see table 1). The results of the Adult Education Survey also indicate that educational participation in life does not decrease continuously but differs depending on the evaluated form of learning (see table 5). Autodidactics show a rather slight decrease, in comparison to organized continuing education. 59 percent of the 19 to 24 year-olds learned something autodidactically during the past 12 months, and 38 percent of the 65 to 80 year–olds. A reverse development is noted for the group of autodidactics only. It is a group of people who did not attend any organized educational programmes during the past twelve months and only learned autodidactically. The participation rate in this form of learning is constantly increasing: from 10 percent of all 19 to 24 year-olds to 29 percent of all 65 to 80 year-olds.

Difference between Male and Female Participation (1979-2007)

Abbildung 6: Differenz zwischen männlichen und weiblichen Beteiligungsquoten (1979-2007) in Prozentpunkten (Quelle: v. Rosenbladt/Bilger 2008, S. 229; eigene Darstellung)
Table 6: Difference between Male and Female Participation Rate (1979-2007) in Percentage (Source: v. Rosenbladt/Bilger 2008, p. 229; DIE source)

During recent years since the start of the Reporting System of Continuing Education (Berichtssystem Weiterbildung - BSW), the difference between male and female participation in continuing education has become smaller (see table 6). In 1979 the difference in participation was very obvious: 27 percent male participation in contrast to 19 percent female participation due to less female participation in vocational continuing education. Women were less often employed and participated less often in vocational training and education.

The difference between the sexes has nearly dissolved over time to only 2 percent in 2003 and remained the same in 2007.

Participation in Continuing Education Listed by Employment Status (1979-2007)

Table 7: Participation in Continuing Education Listed by Employment Status (1979-2007) in Percent (Source: v. Rosenbladt/Bilger 2008, S. 226; DIE table)
Table 7: Participation in Continuing Education Listed by Employment Status (1979-2007) in Percent (Source: v. Rosenbladt/Bilger 2008, S. 226; DIE table)

Table 7 depicts the results of the representative survey of the Report System of Continuing education (Berichtssystem Weiterbildung - BSW). According to the survey, the working population participates more often in continuing education than the non-working population. In 2007, 49 percent of the working population in Germany participated in continuing education compared to only 29 percent of the non-working population. The category “working population” also includes partially employed workers and students working at the time. The percentage of the working as well as the non-working population participating in organized forms of continuing education increased since the late 1970s to a peak level in 1997. Overall, the participation rate of the working population increased by 23 percentage points in 2007 and the participation rate of the non-working population increased by 13 percentage points.

The different participation rates of the working and non-working population are due to the higher participation of the working population in vocational continuing education.

Participation in Continuing Education Listed by School Leaving Certification (1979-2007)

Table 8: Participation in Continuing Education Listed by School Leaving Certification (1979-2007) in Percent (Source: v. Rosenbladt/Bilger 2008, p. 228; DIE image)
Table 8: Participation in Continuing Education Listed by School Leaving Certification (1979-2007) in Percent (Source: v. Rosenbladt/Bilger 2008, p. 228; DIE image)

Participation in continuing education strongly depends on the individual level of education. In table 8, the results of the Report System of Continuing Education (Berichtssystem Weiterbildung - BSW) show an increase of the participation rate in line with the advancing level of qualification. In 2007, 30 percent of people with a low level of school education participated in continuing education in comparison to nearly twice as many with a high level of education. The educational gap in participation remained stable between the late 1970s and 2007 with increasing participation rate in all three categories. The participation rate of those with a low level of education almost doubled the population group with an intermediate level of school education increased from 29 percent to 46 percent and the population group with a high level of education registered an increase from 43 percent to 58 percent.

In the BSW, the categorization of school education includes the following school leaving certifications: low level of school education: no leaving certification, Certificate of Secondary Education (Haupt-/Volksschulabschluss), 8. Class Leaving Certification of Polytechnic Secondary School (Polytechnischen Oberschule -POS); intermediate level of school education: O-level (mittlere Reife), 10. class Leaving Certification of POS; high level of school education: A-levels (Abitur).

Participation in Continuing Education Listed by Vocational Qualification (1979-2007)

Table 9: Participation in Continuing Education Listed by Vocational Qualification (1979-2007) in Percent (Source: v. Rosenbladt/Bilger 2008, p. 228; DIE image)
Table 9: Participation in Continuing Education Listed by Vocational Qualification (1979-2007) in Percent (Source: v. Rosenbladt/Bilger 2008, p. 228; DIE image)

In table 9, the results of the Report System of Continuing Education (Berichtssystem Weiterbildung - BSW) show similar coherences between vocational training and participation in continuing education as in school education (see table 8): a higher level of qualification is coherent to an increasing participation in continuing education. In 2007, 62 percent of university graduates in Germany participated in continuing education, whereas only 23 percent of people without vocational training participated in continuing education. Overall, the participation rate of continuing education has increased in all qualification groups. In the groups “apprenticeship/vocational school“ as well as “master school/technical school“ the participation rate increased the most between the late 1970s and 2007 by 20 percent point each.

Before 1990, the educational qualifications in the old and new German Federal States were only comparable to a certain extent but still combined for a common categorization in the BSW.

Participation in Continuing Education Listed by Migrational Background (2003/2007)

Table 10: Participation in continuing education by migrational background in percent (2003 and 2007) (Source: v. Rosenbladt/Bilger 2008, p. 232)
Table 10: Participation in continuing education by migrational background in percent (2003 and 2007) (Source: v. Rosenbladt/Bilger 2008, p. 232)

The Report System of Continuing Education (Berichtssystem Weiterbildung – BSW) depicts the participation in continuing education of Germans with a migrational background (people with German citizenship who were not born in Germany), Germans without a migrational background (people with German citizenship who were born in Germany) and foreigner living in Germany (see table 10).

Participation in Vocational Training (2005)

Tabelle 2: Teilnahmequote an Lehrveranstaltungen 2005 nach Geschlecht und Alter in Unternehmen mit Lehrveranstaltungen in Prozent (Quelle: Statistisches Bundesamt 2008, S. 31)
Table 2: Participation in continuing education in 2005 listed by gender and age in Businesses in percent (Source: Statistisches Bundesamt 2008, p. 31)

The third European Continuing Vocational Training Survey (CVTS – see table 2) provides data on the participation in continuing vocational training in businesses. It includes organized forms of learning which are partially or entirely financed by businesses. Individually financed continuing education programmes are not included in the CVTS.

Employees in smaller businesses with up to 19 employees are the most active. The participation rate in continuing educational training courses, programmes and seminars is 53.5 %. Only one third of all employees in large businesses (more than 1,000 employees) use the available continuing educational programmes.

The participation rate of men and women differs only slightly. Large businesses of more than 1,000 employees are exception. Here, the male participation rate is 10% higher than the female rate.

Age-specific participation rate are clearly noticeable. Employees older than 55 years participate the least (27%). Also below average is the participation rate of employees under the age of 25 (34%). The most active are younger and older employees in small businesses with up to 19 employees (50% respectively 32%).

Participation in Continuing Education Listed by Qualification of Employees (2001-2008)

Table 3: Participation in Continuing Education Listed by Qaulification of Employees 2001-2008 in percent (* remark: not included in data) (Source: Stegmaier 2011, p. 290)
Table 3: Participation in Continuing Education Listed by Qaulification of Employees 2001-2008 in percent (* remark: not included in data) (Source: Stegmaier 2011, p. 290)

The data provided by the German IAB company panel depicted in table 3 shows the percentage of employees participating in continuing education in businesses. The continuing education rate is established as a quotient of the sum of all employees participatin in continuing education in the first half of the years and the sum of all employees at the day of the survey. Continuing education includes all programmes entirely or partially funded or supported through educational leave.

In 2008, 26% of all employees participated in continuing education – an increase of 4% in comparison to 2007. In comparison to 2001, the participation rate increased by 8%. The data reveals that mostly qualified employees benefit from continuing education in businesses. The participation rate of qualified employees was 29% in 2007, whereas 20% less of the group of unqualified employees.

Participation in Measures of Vocational Training According to SGBII and III (2005-2010)

Table 11: Entries to measures according to SGB II and SGB III between 2005 and 2010 (Source: Bundesagentur für Arbeit)
Table 11: Entries to measures according to SGB II and SGB III between 2005 and 2010 (Source: Bundesagentur für Arbeit)

The entries to supported measures of vocational training depicted in table 11 include measures of active employment promotion (Social Code, Book III - SGB III) and, since 2005, also inclusive measures (Social Code, Book II - SGB II) by the state. Supported cases and participation are included; participants receiving support several times are counted more than once.

After four years of growing participation rate, the measures supported according to the SGB II declined by 5% in 2010, measures according to SGB III by 31%. Between 2005 and 2010, the participation rate according to SGB II increased by 237%, according to SGB III by 300%. The growth rate is similar over time for both measures. 2009 is an exeption: access measures according to SGB II increased by 8%, measures of active work development according to SGB II by 56%.

Involvement in Measures According to SGB II and III (2005-2010)

Table 12: Involvement in measures according to SGB II and SGB III in the month of December between 2005 and 2010 (Source: Information provided by the Bundesagentur für Arbeit)
Table 12: Involvement in measures according to SGB II and SGB III in the month of December between 2005 and 2010 (Source: Information provided by the Bundesagentur für Arbeit)

The entries to supported measures of vocational training depicted in table 11 include measures of active employment promotion (Social Code, Book III - SGB III) and, since 2005, also inclusive measures (Social Code, Book II - SGB II) by the state. Supported cases and participation are included; participants receiving support several times are counted more than once.

The number of participants according to SGB IIhas increased almost continuously since 2005 with the exception of 2010: the number of participants decreased by 0.4%.

Participation in Programmes at Adult Education Centres Listed by Age Groups (1998-2009)

Table 4: Percentage of participant age groups at adult education centres 1998-2009 (Source: VHS-Statistik 1999-2010; remark: Information on age is not available for all participants. Percentage refers to valid notes. In 2009, 66.4% of participants at all adult education centres (85% of adult education centres) entered age (see: Huntemann/Weiß 2010, S. 11)
Table 4: Percentage of participant age groups at adult education centres 1998-2009 (Source: VHS-Statistik 1999-2010; remark: Information on age is not available for all participants. Percentage refers to valid notes. In 2009, 66.4% of participants at all adult education centres (85% of adult education centres) entered age (see: Huntemann/Weiß 2010, S. 11)

The changes in the participants’ age structure at adult education centres since the late 1990s are depicted in table 4. Particularly the percentage of older participant increased during that period, whereas the rate of participants between 18-34 years of age decreased. The rate of participants between 50-64 years of age has increased by 3.8 % since 1998. The group of participants aged 65 year and older has increased even more: from 6.3 % to 13.4% in 2007. Participants in the age groups of 25-34 year olds decreased strongly by 10.6 percent. The group of 18-24 year olds decreased by 3.2%. The group of 35-49 year old participants is the largest with a rather stable rate of roughly 33 %.

Participation in Continuing Education Listed by Gender Percentage at Adult Education Centres (2009)

Table 13: Gender distribution in participation in programme areas at adult education centres in 2009 (in percent; source VHS-Statistik 2009)
Table 13: Gender distribution in participation in programme areas at adult education centres in 2009 (in percent; source VHS-Statistik 2009)

Overall, mostly women participate in programmes offered at adult education centres. In 2009, 75% of all registrations were female participants. In nearly all programme areas, the majority of participants are women. Although there is a great difference in gender preferences in the various programme areas. 85% respectively 79% of all participants in programmes covering the topics “Health” and “Culture/Creative Design” are female. Two thirds of the participants in programmes covering “Politics/Society/Environment” as well as “Languages” are female. Only in the programme areas “Basic Education/School Leaving Certifications” roughly half of the participants are male (see table 13).

Letzte Änderung: 07/09/2017