This report consists of two parts. Part I focusses on the barriers to participation of disadvantaged adults in lifelong learning across European countries. We adopt a supra-individual comparative framework that covers the multiple layer of the complex problem in order to reveal those barriers (hindrances or bounds) that distinguish participants from nonparticipants to lifelong learning in distinct societies in the European Union, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland. Further, it addresses the influence of system characteristics across different disadvantaged groups, employed low-educated persons, employed low-educated young adults; and employed migrants, and compare the identified barriers for these disadvantaged groups to the overall employed population. For the empirical analysis, the European Union Labour Force Surveys (EU LFS edition 2017) are used as the main data source for the estimation of lifelong learning participation. These data are collected for 27 European Union countries and Norway in the year 2016. Overall it is argued that these system characteristics particularly restrict low-educated (young) individuals from access to lifelong learning. Also from an individual perspective, it is observed that low-educated (young) adults, who face income pressure, do not choose for formal learning pathways as a means to increase labour earnings, as opposed to the general (middle- or high-educated) working force. Part II investigates the impact of employees’ investments in adult education and training on growth, and accounts for different levels of investments by labor earnings and by educational attainment of employees. Again, data from EU LFS are used for 23 European Countries and covers the period 2011 to 2016. The main results indicate that the growth rate is significantly reduced by -0.4 percentage points when inequality between lower and more highly educated in the access to education and training, increases. It is then argued that the skill-biased technological change, which implies that technological progress is only in favour of the high-educated, is not favourable for economic growth as a whole. Three implications are discussed:
- the level of educational attainment in the population cannot explain why some countries excel and others fall short;
- inequality in access to adult education and training between low- and high-educated is worse in societies with high shares of routinized jobs; and
- the costs of adult education and training can explain about 0.1 percentage point of the total negative impact of inequality on growth.