About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

Becoming FutureFit

With the labour market changing rapidly as technology impacts workers, building a strong evidence base for adult learning is essential.

Creating an effective adult learning system, which helps to tackle inequality and social exclusion, still seems to be a distant goal. This research shows huge disparities in adult learning across the EU. But more importantly, disparities also exist between different demographic groups within individual countries.

Specifically, this report presents the following findings:

  • As demand for labour in knowledge-based and in-person services increases, employees will need to reskill in order to gain the combination of soft skills and a learning mindset which will allow them to move easily between jobs and sectors.
  • Participation rates in adult learning vary across countries and between demographic groups – from 64 per cent in the Netherlands to 7 per cent in Romania – while non-participants in adult learning tend to fall into one or more of four groups: the elderly; the unemployed; those with low levels of education; and those who live in the countryside.
  • The most frequently-cited reasons for not participating in adult learning (averaged across the EU member states) were clashes with work schedules (39.9 per cent) and family responsibilities (32.5 per cent).

Our findings highlight the importance of government investment in creating an effective adult learning system and in overcoming barriers towards lifelong learning. Our FutureFit programme aims to deliver a series of training interventions, the results of which will inform policy recommendations. Look out for these in our blogs.


Chrystalla Kapetaniou

Chrystalla Kapetaniou

Chrystalla Kapetaniou

Principal Researcher, Future of Work

Dr Chrystalla Kapetaniou is a Principal Researcher.

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