Adult education and training, in the shape of continuing education and training (CET), serves to improve and update skills, abilities and knowledge, and to expand them to encompass new fields and tasks. Continuing education and training activities take place alongside the formal education system. This may be within organised courses (non-formal education) or through informal learning (self-directed learning). Continuing education and training is targeted learning, and is becoming increasingly important in the context of constant change in the labour market and ongoing technological development.
Most people living in Switzerland are involved in some form of continuing education and training. 67.5 per cent of people aged between 25 and 65 are undertaking CET. This figure is well above the European Union average (42.0 per cent) (Eurostat 2016).
Participation in continuing education and training activities depends, among other things, on people’s basic motivation, whether they have sufficient time and money, and what activities are on offer. People with a higher level of education tend to be more involved in CET activities. The employed participate in CET activities more often than the unemployed. Part-time employees working between 50% and 80% are most frequently involved in CET activities. Women more often choose a CET activity which is not directly connected to their professional life (Swiss Federal Statistical Office, 2016 Microcensus Education and Training).
The high relevance of continuing education and training in Switzerland can also be expressed in figures. The volume of the CET market was estimated at CHF 5.3 billion a few years ago. The Confederation and various social insurance funds invest CHF 0.5 billion in CET. The cantons and communes also contribute to funding CET.