Issue Brief: Recent Participation in Formal Learning Among Working-Age Adults with Different Levels of Education

This Issue Brief examines the participation of adults in formal learning activities using data from the 2001 and 2005 adult education surveys of the National Household Education Surveys Program (NHES), focusing on the participation of adults who at the end of the survey had the lowest levels of education (no high school diploma, or a GED). These adults with low levels of education were found to have participated at relatively high rates in adult basic education, ESL, and GED classes. However, for the most common types of formal learning activities—work-related courses and personal interest courses—adults with low levels of education participated at lower rates and for shorter periods of time than did adults with higher levels of education. Among the adults who did participate in these activities, those with lower levels of education at the end of the survey were less likely than those with higher levels of education to pay at least some course expenses themselves.