Adult Education and Training Survey (AETS)

Detailed information for 1991





Record number:


The Adult Education and Training Survey (AETS) is Canada's most comprehensive source of data on individual participation in formal adult education and training. It is the only Canadian survey to collect detailed information about the skill development efforts of the entire adult Canadian population.

Data release - July 1995


The Adult Education and Training Survey (AETS) began in 1990. It resulted in a marriage of what until this time had been two discrete concepts: education and training.

The objectives of the AETS survey are:
a) to measure the incidence of the adult education and training in Canada in a comprehensive manner;
b) to provide a socioeconomic and demographic profile of individuals who participate and do not participate in adult education and training;
c) to profile the types, duration and location of training and education that individuals receive;
d) to profile employer involvement in the training and education process;
e) to identify barriers faced by individuals who wish to take some form of education and training by cannot.

The survey enables analyses to be conducted in such areas as age, sex, marital status, income, educational attainment of participants, employer commitment, method of learning, types of activities, filed of study, hours invested in learning and more. The large number of variables contained in the survey database permits analyses which are quite specific or very general. Survey data also permit extensive comparisons to be made between adults who participate in education and training and those who do not participate. Information gathered through the AETS can enhance interpretations developed through other research activities on labour force transitions, industrial change, the impact of technology, changing funding from governments for education and so on.


  • Adult education and training
  • Education, training and learning

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The population is defined as people 17 years of age and older. However, in order to retain a focus on learners no longer in initial education, all full-time students were excluded except those sponsored by an employer, those over the age of 19 enrolled in an elementary or secondary education program and those over the age of 24 enrolled in a post-secondary education program.

Instrument design

For each survey cycle, the questionnaire has changed to reflect changing data requirements. In general, each successive questionnaire has evolved into a more detailed and comprehensive survey instrument. The 1991 AETS was redesigned to enhance the quality of data and to explore areas not covered in the 1989 survey. A major element of the redesign was the change in the collection methodology resulting in the elimination of proxy responses.


This is a sample survey with a cross-sectional design.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: January 1992

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

The survey is a Labour Force Survey (record number 3701) supplement, using 5 rotation groups. Contact is made by telephone and the questions are asked after the Labour Force Survey is completed when the selected respondent is available. When the respondent is not available, then a suitable time is arranged to call back. There will be three call backs.

Error detection

Capture of the AETS data was accomplished using personal computers located in each of Statistics Canada's Regional Offices. During this process any document containing at least one interviewer-completed item was captured and an unedited version of the computer record was electronically transmitted to Ottawa for further processing.

The first stage of survey processing undertaken at head office was the replacement of any 'out-of-range' values on the data file with blanks. This process was designed to make further editing easier.

The first type of errors treated were errors of questionnaire flow, where questions that did not apply to the respondents, and should therefore not have been answered, were found to contain answers. In this case a computer edit automatically eliminated superfluous data by following the flow of the questionnaire implied by answers to previous, and in some cases, subsequent questions.

The second type of error treated was another error in questionnaire flow, which in this case involved a lack of information in questions which should have been answered. In these cases a non-response or "not stated" code was assigned to the items.


The principle behind estimation in a probability sample such as the LFS is that eah person in the sample 'represents', besides himself or herself, several other people not in the sample. For example, in a simple random 2% sample of the population, each person in the sample represents 50 people in the population.

The weighting phase is a step which calculates, for each record, what this number is and places it on the microdata file for each record. This weight must be used to derive estimates from the microdata file. For example, if the number of individuals enrolled in full-time programs at a university during the past 12 months is to be estimated, it is done by selecting the records referring to those individuals in the sample with that characteristics and summing the weights entered on those records.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any data which would divulge information obtained under the Statistics Act that relates to any identifiable person, business or organization without the prior knowledge or the consent in writing of that person, business or organization. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

Before releasing and/or publishing any estimate, the number of respondents who contribute to the calculation of the estimate must be 30 or more. If it is less than 30, the weighted estimate is not shown, and is noted by an asterisk (*).

Data accuracy

The difference between estimates derived from a sample and those derived from a complete census taken under similar conditions is referred to as sampling error. As in any sample survey, some of the AETS estimates are subject to considerable sampling error or are based on too small a sample to be statistically reliable.

In order to provide a means of assessing the quality of tabulated estimates, Statistics Canada has produced a set of Approximate Sampling Variability Tables for the AETS. These tables can be used to obtain approximate coefficients of variation for categorical-type estimates and proportion.

For weighted estimates based on sample size of 30 observations or more, users should determine the coefficient of variation of the estimate in order to get an indication of the quality of the estimates. For instance, If the coefficient of variation is less than 16%, the estimates can be used without any restriction; if it is between 16% and 33%, the estimates should be used with caution; and, if it is 33% or more, the estimates cannot be released in any form under any release.

Also, non-sampling errors may occur at almost every phase of the survey operation. Considerable time and effort was made to reduce non-sampling errors in the survey. Quality assurance measures were implemented at each step of the data collection and processing cycle to monitor the quality of the data.

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