Funding for adult education

As a part of the non-formal education system, financial support through national and/or regional funding instruments are not always evident or guaranteed. EU funding for adult education is crucial for innovation and sustainability of the sector. Erasmus+ and the ESF play a particularly important role as financial tools for non-formal adult education.


Erasmus+ is the EU programme for Education, Training, Youth and Sport for 2014 to 2020. It offers a wide range of funding opportunities for education stakeholders in the framework of EU’s growth strategy EU2020 and the education and training strategy ET2020.

The European Council endorsed the Europe 2020 Growth Strategy in June 2010. The reform agenda aims to assist Europe overcome from the crisis, coming out stronger through a strategy for inclusive, smart and sustainable growth. Education and training are at the core in reaching the aims of Europe 2020. The regulation Erasmus+ sets out the provisions for a new single programme covering education, training, youth and sport.

Erasmus+ replaces seven previous EU programmes bringing together:

Funding opportunities

Find the current funding opportunities on the webpage of the Executive Agency (EACEA).

Main types of Erasmus+ Key Actions:

European Social Fund (ESF)

The European Social Fund (ESF) is a central funding tool for non-formal adult education in Europe. Adult education contributes to supporting the objectives of the ESF, and in turn, the ESF supports adult education in a number of ways.

Adult education supports and promotes the implementation of the objectives of the ESF by providing transversal and generic skills. These skills lead to an improved access to employment, and what is more, to the creation of better employment opportunities and new ways of working.

Adult education can also improve the adaptability of workers to new work environments and needs. It promotes social inclusion and reaches out to those who are furthest away from learning. It creates links between people, communities and the labour market and fosters the ongoing development of human resources and long-term employment. This helps to make the EU 2020 strategy for “generating smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in the EU” a reality.