The role of non-formal lifelong learning at different points in the business cycle, The International Journal of Manpower

Published: 03 July 2018

Corrales-Herrero, H. y Rodríguez-Prado, B. (2018): The role of non-formal lifelong learning at different points in the business cycle, The International Journal of Manpower, 39 (2), 334-352.

Abstract:

Purpose

Despite the widely recognised importance of lifelong learning, there are mixed results on its causal economic impact. The purpose of this paper is to investigate how economic conditions change the composition of participants in non-formal lifelong learning and whether the business cycle is relevant for the impact of non-formal lifelong learning on employability.

Design/methodology/approach

Non-linear decomposition techniques and matching estimators based on multidimensional covariates are applied to the Spanish sample of the European Adult Education Survey. The analysis controls for background, human capital and personal traits and draws a distinction between unemployed and employed workers.

Findings

The results show major differences in the volume and composition of participants before and during the Great Recession. In addition, there is a business cycle dependence of the effectiveness of non-formal lifelong learning that varies with the individual labour market situation. While lifelong learning proves more effective for the unemployed in recessions, for the employed the impact is greater in expansions.

Originality/value

The paper provides new evidence on the scant results of the moderating effect of the business cycle on the impact of lifelong learning. The analysis is not restricted to training implemented within public programmes, but rather extends to any kind of non-formal lifelong learning undertaken by unemployed and employed workers. In this sense, the analysis provides information about the optimal moment to invest in lifelong learning from both the policymaker and individual as well as firm perspective.

https://doi.org/10.1108/IJM-08-2016-0164