18.4.2024 valid documentation

Basic data of the statistics

Data description

The adult education survey provides information on the participation of the adult population in general adult education and vocational adult education and changes in the participation. It also describes the willingness of the population to participate in the education and the need for and obstacles to adult education.

Adult education is described from the perspective of its organisers, and the focus is also on the contents, scope and perceived effects of the education. Data on specific topics, such as information technology and foreign language skills, as well as everyday learning environments have also been collected during survey rounds. Since the 1990 data collection, the statistics have included large amounts of data on the working lives and work histories of the adult population.

The basic data collected for the statistics are confidential.

Statistical population

The adult population (aged 18 to 69) living in Finland constitutes the population in the survey, and the sample size is approximately 7,500 persons. Until 2017, the statistical population of EU-AES comprised persons aged 25 to 64 but in the future, it will comprise persons aged 18 to 69.

Statistical unit

One person is the statistical unit used in the statistics on participation in adult education.

Unit of measure

Number of persons and percentage share.

Reference period

The 12 months preceding data collection in the survey years 1980, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2006, 2012, 2017 and 2022.

Reference area

The reference area for the statistics on participation in adult education is the whole of Finland.

Sector coverage

The statistics on participation in adult education cover the entire population aged 18 to 69 living in Finland.

Time coverage

Data are available for the years 1980, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2006, 2012 , 2017 and 2022.
The statistics are final.

Frequency of dissemination

The statistics on participation in adult education are compiled approximately every five years. 
The material concerning a single year is published in several releases covering different areas of content.


Adult education

Adult education refers to provision of instructed learning events for adults who usually act or have acted in working life after earlier terminated or interrupted education within the regular education system. It is characteristic that adult education is arranged and organised specifically with adults in mind. Differences to education within the regular education system can be such as the time and modes of instruction. In the Adult Education Survey, adult education is defined on the basis of the organisation providing education and training (educational institution, training organisation or other such training organiser).

Because participation in different types of educational institutions and training organisations is taken into account on the data collection form, the definition of adult education can be made from different points of view.

Adult education connected with the participant's work or occupation (vocational adult education)

A distinction was made, from the interviewee's viewpoint, between adult education connected with the participant's work or occupation and education pursued out of a general interest or with a hobby or pastime in mind, on the basis of the person's own statement of the purpose of participation.

Days of participation

The days on which the respondent had been participating in adult education and training (i.e. receiving instruction, etc.) during the preceding 12 months are counted as his/her days of participation. This need not necessarily be the total duration of the course or teaching. The figure does not include travel to and from the place where the course was held, nor any time spent at home on preparation or exercises. One day of participation or education is taken as lasting six hours.

Employer-sponsored training

In the Adult Education Survey all adult education partly or wholly paid for by the respondent's employer was considered to be employer-sponsored training regardless of its content. This may have been entirely sponsored by the employer, in the sense that all the respondent's expenses were paid and the event took place entirely within working hours.

All such adult education was considered partly sponsored by the employer where the employer had taken part in its costs and/or the training or its part had taken place within working hours, but in addition the respondent had had to spend some leisure time or holiday time on it, obtain leave of absence for study purposes and/or had to contribute towards the costs.

The questions on costs and use of time applied only to adult education connected with the respondent's work or occupation that had been provided by adult education organisations (or equivalent forms of adult training).

Entirely voluntary vocational adult education and training

This term is used to denote adult education and training connected with the respondent's work or occupation which takes place entirely outside working time and involves no financial contribution from either the person's employer or his/her trade union.

Lifelong Learning

Lifelong Learning (LLL) is defined as encompassing all learning activity undertaken throughout life, with the aim of improving knowledge, skills and competences, within a personal, civic, social and/or employment-related perspective.

Participation in education and training

The purpose of the Adult Education Survey was to study participation in all organised education and training and not only that specifically arranged for adults. Similarly, with the notion of life-long learning in mind, respondents were asked about what was the highest basic educational qualification they had obtained during their whole life and to what extent they had taken part in training arranged in connection with their work or occupation and in education and training courses abroad. Efforts were then made to determine more precisely the participation of the adult education and training during the reference period for twelve months preceding the interview.

Including study periods or courses that had not been completed. All activities specifically arranged and organised for the purpose of bringing about learning were regarded as education. It was also required that these activities should have had a pre-arranged curriculum or syllabus and that there should have been a specific provider or organiser responsible for the arrangements. Information sessions, advertising campaigns, sales drives and meetings were not regarded as forms of education.

Regular education system

The basic education system is regarded primarily as consisting of:
- teaching provided for young people at upper secondary schools, vocational schools and colleges, polytechnics, and universities
- teaching at folk high schools, music schools and colleges and sports colleges leading to a vocational qualification, and
- postgraduate education at universities (researcher training).

Self-directed study

In the Adult Education Survey, self-directed study was taken as comprising personal study - learning of new knowledge and skills - occurring beyond the sphere of formal, organised education. Thus it may be fairly informal in character and may be pursued by the respondent either alone or in the company of colleagues or friends. So-called occasional studying is not included.

Accuracy, reliability and timeliness

Overall accuracy

The accuracy of data collected in a sample survey is affected by measurement errors, non-response and the random variation attributable to the sample. Measurement errors may arise if questions can be understood and interpreted in different ways or if the respondents do not give the requested information. Measurement errors are reduced through interviewer training and form testing. Survey non-response is divided into unit non-response and item (or partial) non-response. The survey’s non-response is classified into unit non-response and item non-response or partial non-response. Unit non-response means that target persons cannot be interviewed at all because they refuse to be interviewed or cannot be reached. Weighting coefficients can be used to correct unit non-response. Item non-response refers to question-specific non-response. In such cases an interview has been conducted but data are missing in certain questions because the interview was interrupted or the interviewee refused to respond.


The adult education survey is carried out every 6 years. The data for 2022 were collected between September 2022 and February 2023.

The data are published eight months after the data collection.

As agreed, the survey data (EU-AES data) were transmitted to the European Commission (Eurostat) within three months of the end of the national data collection period.


EU-AES data were transmitted to Eurostat as planned six months after the end of the data collection.

Data revision

Revisions – i.e. improvements in the accuracy of statistical data already published – are a normal feature of statistical production and result in improved quality of statistics. The principle is that statistical data are based on the best available data and information concerning the statistical phenomenon. On the other hand, the revisions are communicated as transparently as possible in advance. Advance communication ensures that the users can prepare for the data revisions.

The reason why data in statistical releases become revised is often caused by the data becoming supplemented. Then the new, revised statistical figure is based on a wider information basis and describes the phenomenon more accurately than before.

Revisions of statistical data may also be caused by the calculation method used, such as annual benchmarking or updating of weight structures. Changes of base years and used classifications may also cause revisions to data.


Comparability - geographical

Content-wise, the data concerning Finland in the statistics are geographically comparable. Comparisons can be done within the framework set by the scope of the data.

The EU-harmonised data in the statistics are comparable with the data of other EU Member States, provided that the data of the Member States have been collected in accordance with the regulations and instructions applicable to the data collection.

Comparability - over time

Statistics Finland data on participation in adult education in Finland are available for the years 1980, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2006, 2012, 2017 and 2022. The following indicators describing participation are comparable up to 1980: participation in adult education, participation in adult education related to work or profession, and participation in adult education unrelated to work or profession (general education or leisure objective). Time series data on participation in personnel training as well as on volumes of adult education and of different types of adult education (training days) are available from 1990 onwards.

Coherence - cross domain

Both the statistics on participation in adult education and the statistics on continuing vocational training (CVTS) measure the participation rate in education and training subsidised by the employer (personnel training). In the statistics on continuing vocational training, the term competence development in enterprises has been adopted instead of the term personnel training. Competence development in enterprises refers to the competence development of the enterprise's personnel, which is wholly or partly financed by the employer, and which is performed wholly or partly during working hours.

The statistics on participation in adult education produce this information from the viewpoint of individuals (wage and salary earners aged 18 to 69) while the statistics on continuing vocational training (CVTS) produce it from the viewpoint of enterprises (mainly private sector enterprises with at least 10 employees). The reference years of the statistics differ from each other.

The statistics on participation in adult education cover all types of learning activities, whereas the collection of data in the statistics on continuing vocational training (CVTS) focuses on course-based studying.

Possible differences in survey results are caused by differing survey designs, data collection methods, target groups and contexts.

Source data and data collections

Source data

Persons aged 18 to 69 living permanently in Finland comprise the population of the adult education survey 2022. The data sorted in accordance with the domicile code of the Population Information System served as the sampling frame from which the sample was drawn.

Data collection

The data for the adult education survey were collected using the mixed-mode data collection method, in which all persons included in the sample were first provided with the opportunity to give their responses online. Those who did not submit their responses online were provided with an opportunity for a phone interview. Online interviews 86 % of all responses. 

Contents of the EU-AES data collection are specified in the implementing regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council. Some of the data collected in the Finnish adult education survey are only intended for national use.

The interview and web questionnaire forms were tested in the form team. Length of the form (maintaining response motivation), comprehensibility (interviewer could not provide any information on the concepts) and usability (functionality, visual clarity, navigation through the questionnaire) were the main challenges concerning the web questionnaire form. 

In the testing the focus was on the functioning of the web questionnaire form from the respondent’s perspective. The purpose of the testing was to determine whether the questionnaire form was easy to understand and whether it was considered complicated by the respondents. At the same time, observations on the practicability of the questionnaire form were also made.

The data collection was carried out using the software version Blaise 5. The questionnaire was prepared in Finnish, Swedish and English.

Frequency of data collection

The survey has been carried out approximately every five years. The data were collected in 1980, 1990, 2000, 2006, 2012, 2017 and 2022.


Data compilation

The survey data was weighted to match the entire population, which corrects for the effects of non-response and improves the statistical accuracy of the data. The weighting coefficients were generated by first calculating the base weights that account for the probability of each observation being included in the sample. The base weights were divided by the response probabilities estimated by the response probability model. In the response probability model, response was explained by gender, age, level of education, statistical municipality grouping, language and marital status. The final weights were generated using the so-called calibration method (Calmar) so that the estimated marginal distributions of the selected background variables, sex, age group, educational level and region of residence, correspond to the marginal distributions of the whole population, i.e. the demographic structure.

Data validation

The data used in the statistics on participation in adult education are validated at numerous stages during the statistical process. During the processing of the data, the high quality of the data is ensured with various statistical verification programs, data requests addressed to data suppliers as well as by comparing the data with previous comparable statistics and other data sources.

Principles and outlines

Contact organisation

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Contact organisation unit

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Legal acts and other agreements

The compilation of statistics is guided by the Statistics Act. The Statistics Act contains provisions on collection of data, processing of data and the obligation to provide data. Besides the Statistics Act, the Data Protection Act and the Act on the Openness of Government Activities are applied to processing of data when producing statistics. 

Statistics Finland compiles statistics in line with the EU’s regulations applicable to statistics, which steer the statistical agencies of all EU Member States.  

Further information: Statistical legislation 

The collection of EU-harmonised data for the statistics is mandatory in EU Member States. The national adult education survey has been integrated into the regulation-based adult education survey of the EU (EU) 2021/859 , (EU) 2021/861.

Confidentiality - policy

The data protection of data collected for statistical purposes is guaranteed in accordance with the requirements of the Statistics Act (280/2004), the Act on the Openness of Government Activities (621/1999), the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679 and the Data Protection Act (1050/2018). The data materials are protected at all stages of processing with the necessary physical and technical solutions. Statistics Finland has compiled detailed directions and instructions for confidential processing of the data. Employees have access only to the data essential for their duties. The premises where unit-level data are processed are not accessible to outsiders. Members of the personnel have signed a pledge of secrecy upon entering the service. Violation of data protection is punishable. 

Further information: Data protection | Statistics Finland (stat.fi) 

Confidentiality - data treatment

The research data must be transmitted to the European Commission (Eurostat) in CSV format within three months of the end of the national data collection period using the Edamis Web Application (EWA) data transfer software. The quality report must be transmitted within six months of the end of the data collection period and it must be structured in accordance with the European Statistical System Standard Quality Report Structure. 

The sole identifier in the data to be sent to Eurostat is the consecutive target number created for the sample based on which a respondent cannot be identified.

The data are released in text, graph and table formats, which does not allow for the identification of individual data producers.

Release policy

Statistics Finland publishes new statistical data at 8 am on weekdays in its web service. The release times of statistics are given in advance in the release calendar available in the web service. The data are public after they have been updated in the web service. 

Further information: Publication principles for statistics at Statistics Finland 

Data sharing

The data are published in the release system on Statistics Finland’s website, as database tables and articles.

The research data must be transmitted to the European Commission (Eurostat) within six months of the end of the national data collection period via the EDAMIS Web Portal. The quality report is delivered to Eurostat on the ESS Metadata Handler platform within nine months of the end of the data collection period and it must be structured in accordance with the European Statistical System Standard Quality Report Structure. 

Accessibility and clarity

Statistical data are published as database tables in the StatFin database. The database is the primary publishing site of data, and new data are updated first there. When releasing statistical data, existing database tables can be updated with new data or completely new database tables can be published.   

In addition to statistical data published in the StatFin database, a release on the key data is usually published in the web service. If the release contains data concerning several reference periods (e.g. monthly and annual data), a review bringing together these data is published in the web service. Database tables updated at the time of publication are listed both in the release and in the review. In some cases, statistical data can also be published as mere database releases in the StatFin database. No release or review is published in connection with these database releases. 

Releases and database tables are published in three languages, in Finnish, Swedish and English. The language versions of releases may have more limited content than in Finnish.   

Information about changes in the publication schedules of releases and database tables and about corrections are given as change releases in the web service. 

Since 2017, results of the international adult education survey (EU-AES) have been published on such forums as the website of the European Union’s statistical office (epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu).

Data revision - policy



Quality assessment

The quality of the statistics on participation in adult education is assessed in several different stages of the statistical process. 

An EU-AES quality report on the statistics is also prepared.

Quality assurance

Quality management requires comprehensive guidance of activities. The quality management framework of the field of statistics is the European Statistics Code of Practice (CoP). The quality criteria of Official Statistics of Finland are compatible with the European Statistics Code of Practice. 

User access

Data are released to all users at the same time. Statistical data may only be handled at Statistics Finland and information on them may be given before release only by persons involved in the production of the statistics concerned or who need the data of the statistics concerned in their own work before the data are published. 

Further information: Publication principles for statistics 

Unless otherwise separately stated in connection with the product, data or service concerned, Statistics Finland is the producer of the data and the owner of the copyright. The terms of use for statistical data.

Statistical experts

Helena Niemi
Senior Statistician
029 551 2488

The documentation released before 5.4.2022 can be found on the archive pages of the statistics.

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