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Adult-Education Enrollment Up; Business Classes Dominate

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Most people who took adult-education classes in 1981 did so for job-related reasons, and nearly half took their additional courses in the fields of business, health, or engineering, according to a new report from the National Center for Education Statistics (nces).

And, the study shows, more people took adult-education classes in 1981 than in 1978, when the last such survey was done.

Part of the reason is demographic, said Thomas Latkowski, an nces statistician, but the rate of adults taking such classes has also increased.

Although there is no reliable information to explain the increase, Mr. Latkowski said, some educators believe that the condition of the economy has spurred people into pursuing additional education and training.

Included among the individuals 17 years of age or older who participated in some type of adult-education activity were 1.2 million full-time adult students in elementary and high schools, colleges, or vocational schools who took adult courses in addition to their regular school work.

However, the majority of the adult-education participants (20 million) were either part-time students in schools or colleges, or other adults who took at least one course, but were not otherwise enrolled in regular educational programs.

Estimates in the report are based on supplementary questions in the May 1981 Current Population Survey and were tabulated for nces by the Census Bureau.

Of 37 million courses taken, the study states, 60 percent were taken to advance in a job or to get a job.

Twenty-one million American adults--13 percent of all adults--took part in at least one adult-education activity during the survey period.

The number of people taking adult-edu-cation courses increased by 17 percent, from 18 million to 21 million, between 1978 and 1981.

Rates of participation in adult education rose with levels of education, according to the study. Participants were more likely than the total population to have attended college.

Participants in adult education also tend to be young. Nearly 54 percent of the adult-education participants in 1981 were under 35 years old, while this age group made up only 43 percent of the adult population.

Women accounted for 56 percent of all participants in adult education. In 1981, nearly 12 million women and nine million men took one or more adult-education courses.

Eighty-eight percent of the participants were white, compared with 82 percent in the total population. Blacks constituted 6 percent of all participants; Hispanics, 3.6 percent; and members of other minority groups, 2.4 percent.

The survey, Participation in Adult Education, 1981, is available at no charge from nces, 400 Maryland Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20202.--ah

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