Adult Learning in Modern Societies
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Adult Learning in Modern Societies

An International Comparison from a Life-course Perspective

Edited by Hans-Peter Blossfeld, Elina Kilpi-Jakonen, Daniela Vono de Vilhena and Sandra Buchholz

As industrial societies increasingly evolve into knowledge-based economies, the importance of education as a lifelong process is greater than ever. This comprehensive book provides a state-of-the-art analysis of adult learning across the world and within varying institutional contexts. The expert contributors examine the structures of formal and non-formal adult learning in different countries, and investigate the levels of success those countries have experienced in encouraging participation and skill formation.
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Chapter 15: Participation in Adult Learning in Spain and Its Impacts on Individuals’ Labor Market Trajectories

Daniela Vono de Vilhena and Pau Miret Gamundi


With its strongly segmented labor market, Spain is among the EU countries with the lowest rates of upward employment mobility. Within this system, work experience is the main element that contributes to the progress of careers, and formal education processes finish at young ages, with very few individuals returning to education as adults. The country is also characterized by cyclical unemployment periods and faced major changes in its macroeconomic scenario during the first decade of the 2000s. In these years, we can find both the lowest and highest unemployment rates since 1976, beginning at around 8 per cent during the initial years and rising to 26 per cent in 2013. The combination of a segmented labor market with cyclical unemployment periods has been interpreted as Spain’s strongest barrier toward the decrease of inequalities. Using data for the period between 2002 and 2009 from the Catalonian Inequality Panel, which encompasses both prosperity and crisis scenarios, we explore participation patterns in different types of adult learning as well as the role of adult learning regarding inequality patterns and its consequences on labor market trajectories. We aim specifically at answering the following research questions: (1) What are the predictors of participation in adult learning? (2) Does participation in adult learning increase the likelihood of the unemployed to return to employment? (3) Does participation in adult learning influence occupational-class mobility? (4) Does participation in adult learning influence the probability of getting out of precarious jobs?

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