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Based on exploratory factor analysis of data from a special Eurobarometer survey dedicated to lifelong learning, different categories of reasons for not taking part in adult education and training is developed. 18.000 people living in the 15 old EU member countries in the survey were among other topics were asked what would be the most likely obstacles if they wanted to take part in education and training. The distribution of the different categories of barriers among different socio economic groups is afterwards tested by use of logistic regression using Odds Ratios.

As a result of the exploratory factor analysis, five categories of barriers towards participation in adult education and training is developed: Lack of time and energy; negative towards re entering education; accessibility of learning activities; lack of support; and lack of confidence in own abilities.

The factors have been combined with a number of socio demographic variables to see how the different barriers influence different socio demographic groups.

Though different models exits in relation to the impact of ongoing technological developments on the demands for qualifications (see for instance Gooderham, 1993), the dominant view is that due to changing societies and economies, more and different qualifications are being needed, leading to an increased focus on lifelong learning. The interest for lifelong education and learning has been at the agenda for many decades, but with different intensity and to some extent also a different focus (Larson, 2005; Rubenson, 2006a). In the 1990 s lifelong education and lifelong learning re entered the political agenda after having been more or less in the dark for about a century. At the same time, adult education went from being a tool for liberating the individual to being mainly a mainly economic tool for increasing the human capital (Larson, 2005).

When the European Council met in Lisbon 2000, the aim of the meeting was to find a way to “strengthen employment, economic reform and social cohesion as part of a knowledge based economy” (Lisbon European council: Presidency conclusions, 2000). According to the results of the meeting, lifelong learning is that way. Lifelong learning for all, thus, today is seen as the way to secure not only the economy but also the social cohesion in the European societies.

Much research has been done in relation to participation and non participation in adult education and training. The exact proportion of adults who participates in adult education and training varies from study to study, depending on not only time and place, but also the design of the study and how learning activities is defined (Cross, 1981; Desjardins et al., in print). As an example, according to Cross (1981), the percentage of adults taking part in learning activities in America range from 12 percent in one study to 98 percent in another study. The share of adult participating in adult education and training also differ from study to study in a pure European context. According to data from Eurostat, eleven percent of the adult Europeans had in 2005 participated in education and training in the four weeks before they were asked (Progress towards the Lisbon objectives in education and training, 2006). At the same time, with a much broader definition of participation in adult education and training, Chisholm et al. found that 31 percent of all Europeans plus Norwegians and Icelanders in 2003 had participated in some form of education and training within the last twelve months (Chisholm et al., 2004).

In spite of different definitions of participation in education and training, however, most studies agree that participation is unequally distributed among socio economic groups (Chisholm et al., 2004; Cross, 1981; Darkenwald Merriam, 1982; Desjardins et al., in print; Houle, 1961; Larson, 2006; McGivney, 1990; Pont, 2004, Progress towards the Lisbon objectives in education and training, 2006; Tuijnman Hellstr 2001), and six years after the decisions taken in Lisbon, lifelong learning is still not for all (Chisholm et al., 2004; Desjardins et al., in print; Larson, 2006, Progress towards the Lisbon objectives in education and training, 2006). The question of why some people participates in adult education and training while others don t, thus, is as relevant and urgent as ever if we want to make lifelong learning for all a reality. It is our conviction that a better understanding of the barriers towards participation in adult education and training, and the role they play for different socio economic groups, can add to an understanding of how overcome barriers towards participation in adult education and training, and thus come closer to lifelong learning for all.

As mentioned above, participation in adult education and training is not equally distributed in the population. McGivney in 1990 (McGivney, 1990), based on an extensive literature review identified nine (often overlapping) groups that tend to participate less than the average citizen in adult education and training: People with no or few educational qualifications; people with basic education needs; low income groups, the unwaged, unemployed, and people dependent on state benefits; people in unskilled or semi skilled manual occupations; ethnic minority groups; older adults; women with young children; people with mental or physical handicap and people living in certain rural areas. Almost fifteen years later, Pont (2004) in an article on participation in adult learning in OECD countries mentions much the same groups (low skilled, those with low wages, the unemployed or in other ways “far away” from the labour market, and elder people) as less likely to participate in adult education and training than the higher educated, the employed, those working in larger enterprises in white collar occupations and the younger adults. Also Desjardins et al. based on statistical analyses of existing databases mentions almost the same groups as participating least in adult education and training: The older; those who s parents have low levels of education; the low educated and low skilled; the unemployed or low skilled; immigrants; rural residents and; in some countries women(1) (Desjardins et al., in print). In 2005 high educated Europeans participated seven times more in adult education and training than did low educated (Progress towards the Lisbon objectives in education and training, 2006).

Around 1980, Cross developed here “chain of response model”, a conceptual framework aimed at explaining what makes some people participate in adult education and training, and others not to do it (Cross, 1981). The starting point in Cross model is the learning oriented individual. If not from the onset motivated for participation in adult education and training, it is very unlikely a person will participate, no matter how much is done to eliminate barriers external to the individual. The first link in the chain, thus, consists of individual factors like self evaluation and attitudes toward education. From this mainly psychological link, the model moves on to more and more external factors like opportunities and barriers. The next step stress the importance of a belief that participation in education and training will lead to some goals considered important. According to the model, factors like life transitions, information, and opportunities and barriers further influence whether or not an individual ends up participating in adult education and training. The Importance of the barriers towards participation in adult education and training, according to Cross and the chain of response model, in the end depends of how strong an interest the individual has in adult education and training. Before looking at barriers, the individual must already have an interest in participating. However, in her empirical work, Cross (1981) also includes psychological aspects in her list of barriers. Based on a review of former studies on participation in adult education and training, Cross, thus, mentions three groups of barriers towards participation in adult education and training: Dispositional barriers (for instance “low grades in the past,
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not confident of my ability” and “don t enjoy studying); institutional barriers and; situational barriers, were dispositional barriers comes close to the first part of the chain in her model.

Darkenwald and Merriam (1982) building on Cross model a few years later developed what they called the “Psychosocial Interaction Model” for why some, but not all, people choose to participate in adult education and training. The model especially emphasises the importance of socio economic status as a result of the initial individual and family characteristics and the preparatory education and socialisation for later participation in adult education and training. Socio economic status, hence, according to the model have a positive effect on participation stimuli as well as on the perceived value and utility of adult education and training and thereby readiness to participate. That is, the higher socio economic status, the more likely to give value to and see the utility of adult education and training, and to be interested in participating. The last factor influencing participation in adult education and training according to the model is barriers. But barriers do not come from nowhere. According to Darkenwald and Merriam, barriers are negatively correlated with participation stimuli that is the more stimulated for participating in adult education and training, the fewer barriers towards participation. And as participation stimuli is a result of socio economic status, it can also be assumed that the higher socio economic status, the fewer barriers towards participation in adult education and training. In line with their focus on socio economic status, Darkenwald and Merriam rename Cross dispositional barriers “psycho social barriers”, stressing the importance of the social environment. In the rest of this paper, dispositional or psycho social barriers is included in the concept of barriers, allowing lack of interest as a barrier towards participation in adult education and training of equal importance as other barriers.

Common for Cross as well as Darkenwald and Merriam s models is the importance they give to the more psychological aspects in relation to participation in adult education and training, and their tendency to forget to include the influence of the individual s life history for his or hers participation in adult education and training (Rubenson, 2006b).

In the end of the 1970 s, Rubenson and some of his colleagues developed the expectancy valence theory on participation in adult education and training (Rubenson, 1976; Rubenson et al., 1977). According to this theory, interest in participating in adult education and training is dependent of 1) whether the individual consider participation in education and training valuable in relation to his/her experienced needs (valence), and 2) his/her expectations in relation to being able to manage and complete the education and that it will lead to the desired outcome (expectancy). If education and training is not considered having valence or the person involved does not expect that participation will lead to a desired outcome, he/she will not be interested in taking part in education and training.

In addition to different models aimed at explaining why some participates in adult education and training and other do not, a lot of empirical work has been done aimed at identifying barriers towards participation in adult education and training. In most cases, however, the barriers have been identified for adults as a whole, not distinguishing between different groups of adults that is the importance of the different barriers for different socio economic groups. In this paper, we intend to take a closer look at the barriers related to socio economic groups to see if some barriers are more important for specific socio economic groups than for others. In light of this, the paper addresses two related research questions:

What types of barriers exist towards participation in adult education and training?

How important are the identified clusters of barriers to different socio economic groups?

The analysis builds on data from a Eurobarometer survey from 2003 part of which were specifically dedicated to lifelong learning. Data presents participation in adult education and training seen from the perspective of the individual citizens in the fifteen old EU member states plus Norway and Iceland. Target group for the survey were citizens of the fifteen countries, living in one of the countries, and aged fifteen years or older, as well as Icelanders and Norwegians. In total 18.007 randomly selected respondents were interviewed, in average 1.000 in each country(2). Except for in Iceland where it was done by telephone, the interviews were conducted face to face (Chisholm et al., 2004, Lifelong learning: Citizens view, 2003). Previous analyses of the data have been presented in 2003 and 2004 (Chisholm et al., 2004; Desjardins et al., in print, Lifelong learning: Citizens view, 2003).

The aim of this analysis is to go a step further and take a closer look at the barriers towards participating in adult education and training by use of factor analysis. The questionnaire consisted of fifteen questions on opinions, experiences and attitudes towards adult education and training. In the following analysis especially one of those questions is in focus. The question was designed as a multiple choice question, were the respondents were asked to choose among a number of possible barriers/obstacles: “Suppose that you wanted to take part in some kind of studies or training. What would be the three most likely obstacles for you?” (See annex A for the question and possible answers).

The data has been analysed by use of exploratory factor analysis more precisely principal component analysis (Darlington, 1997; Spearritt, 1998). The aim of factor analysis is to look for one or more factors underlying a number of variables. In this case, the aim of the analysis has been to look for factors underlying different statements on barriers towards participation in adult education and training.

It is not claimed that the factors resulting from the analysis is the only way to cluster barriers towards participation. Rather, a heuristic approach to factor analysis is being used (Darlington, 1997). The results are, therefore, discussed in relation to other categorisations of barriers (Cross, 1981; Darkenwald Merriam, 1982).

The factors resulting from the analysis has afterwards been combined with a number of socio demographic variables by use of logistic regression to see whether some factors are more likely to be a barrier for some socio economic groups than for others. The population included in the analysis is Europeans aged 16 64, who is not full time students. The analysis use adjusted odd rations showing the likelihood of the different barriers influencing participation in adult education and training in the future. Variables included in the adjusted odds model are age, gender, education, employment status and country of residence. In the above discussion of the analysis, the country of residence is not being dealt with. Information on educational level builds on the age the respondent left full time education. Up to fifteen years is defined as “less than upper secondary”, sixteen to nineteen years is defined as “upper secondary”, and twenty years or older is defined as “higher than upper secondary”.

That many people in Europe experience barriers, or obstacles, towards participating in adult education and training can be seen from the fact, that only 29 percent of the respondents answer that there would be no obstacles if they wanted to take part in some kind of studies or training (Chisholm et al., 2004). 71 percent, or more than 2/3 of the respondents, thus, experience some kind of barriers towards participation in adult education and training. But what type of barriers or obstacles are they experiencing? The questionnaire lists fourteen different barriers. The answers have been analysed by use of factor analysis(3) (see annex B). The result is five categories: Lack of time and energy; negative towards re entering education, lack of available courses, lack of support, and lack of confidence in own abilities.

Table 1: Categories of barriers based on factor analysis of Eubarometer data

The first group of barriers has something to do with time and energy, and how it is prioritised. The job or the family takes too much energy and the person does not intend to use the free time left on learning activities. We call this category “lack of time and/or energy”. At first sight, this factor falls well into Cross and Darkenwald Merriam s situational barriers, that is barriers related to the individuals situation such as job and family responsibilities. However, our factor also includes a reluctance to spend the free time left on learning activities, stressing that lack of time may not only be a question of the actual time available but also a question of how different ways to spend the time is prioritised, as indicated above. That job commitments take up too much energy, thus, does not necessarily mean that that the work is consuming so much energy that nothing is left for spare time. It might also be that the energy left is preferably being spent on something else than education and training. It could therefore also be termed “other activities given higher priority in relation to time and energy”.

When asking people, why they do not participate in adult education and training, the most often mentioned barrier according to numerous studies is lack of time and/or money (B Valdivielso, 1997; Chisholm et al., 2004; Darkenwald Merriam, 1982; Desjardins et al., in print). Lack of time, however, is a very vague construct and difficult to decipher. As Desjardins et al. (in print) phrase it, how much time is set aside for learning activities depends on the life situation. “Lack of time” may in fact say more about how a person prioritise his/her time than how much time is left for other activities when work is over. According to a Danish study focusing on men aged 40 60 years with a short education (Christensen et al., 1997), men with a short education tend to focus on their family and their leisure time and being unwilling to accept educational activities that threatens the dividing line between work and spare time. Also, Belanger and Valdivielso (1997) in a study found a positive correlation between participation in adult education and training and participation in other cultural activities like reading, use of libraries, and participation in associations, but at the same time a negative correlation between television viewing and participation in adult education and training.

Further, lack of time may just be a convenient and socially accepted reason for not taking part in education and training, covering up other reasons. The importance of time and money as deterrents for non participation might, thus, be overestimated (Cross, 1981; Darkenwald Merriam, 1982; McGivney, 1990). McGivney points to the fact, that unemployed people that is people without any job related obligations are less likely to take part in adult education and training than are employed people. Instead of lack of time and money, McGivney in a study from 1990 highlights the importance of attitudes and expectations:

The second group of barriers seems to have something to do with specific expectations in relation to what learning activities are, comparing it to childhood education. The respondent think he/she has never been good at studying and/or don t like to go back to something like school. Further,
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learning seems to be considered as something mainly for children and youngsters (I a