The United Nations 2021 update on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) stated that broader participation in continuing education and training is needed to create more resilient and adaptable workers.
UN SDG 4 calls for ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all. Continuing education and training are key to improved livelihoods and to developing a labour force resilient to economic shocks and adaptable to technological change.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the average participation rate of youth and adults in formal and non-formal education was only 25%, with significant variation across the 73 countries with data. In nearly half of them, participation rates were below 10%, but were 40% and above among countries in Europe and Northern America. Gender parity in participation rates was achieved in less than a fifth of the countries.
With schools and workspaces transitioning online due to COVID-19, ICT skills have become critically important. However, available data from 2017–2019 indicate that less than 40% of youth and adults reported performing one of the basic ICT skills in the last three months, such as sending an email with an attachment.