Adult Education and Training Survey (AETS)

Detailed information for 2002





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 - April 30, 2004


This survey has been discontinued as of 2008. The data are now collected by the Access and Support to Education and Training Survey (ASETS, record number 5151).

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. The main objectives are:

1) To measure the incidence and intensity of adults' participation in job-related formal training.

2) To profile employer support to job-related formal training.

3) To analyze the aspects of job-related training activities such as: training provider, expenses, financial support, motivations, outcomes and difficulties experienced while training.

4) To identify the barriers preventing individuals from participating in the job-related formal training they want or need to take.

5) To identify reasons explaining adults' lack of participation and of interest in job-related formal training.

6) To relate adults' current participation patterns to their past involvement in and plans about future participation in job-related training.

7) To measure the incidence and frequency of adults' participation in job-related informal training.

8) To examine the interactions between participation in formal and informal job-related training.

The AETS provides information about the main subject of training activities, their provider, duration and the sources and types of support for training. Furthermore, the AETS allows for the examination of the socio-economic and demographic profiles of both training participants and non-participants. This survey also identifies barriers faced by individuals who wish to take some form of training but cannot.

Collection period: At the beginning of the year after the reference year.


  • Adult education and training
  • Education, training and learning

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The population covered by the AETS consists of Canadians 25 years of age and older.

Instrument design

The content of the AETS was revised to take into account recommendations coming from consultation exercises. As a result, more than half of the survey that was conducted in 2003 was made up of new questions and the target population has been modified.


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

The AETS was administered to a sub-sample of the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and therefore its sample design is closely tied to that of the LFS. Because the AETS was a supplement to the LFS, the frame used is the LFS frame.

The LFS is a monthly household survey whose sample of individuals is representative of the civilian, non-institutionalized population 15 years of age or older in Canada's ten provinces. Specifically excluded from the survey's coverage are residents of the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, persons living on Indian Reserves, full-time members of the Canadian Armed Forces and inmates of institutions. These groups together represent an exclusion of approximately 2% of the population aged 15 or over.

The LFS sample is based upon a stratified, multi-stage design employing probability sampling at all stages of the design. The design principles are the same for each province.

The LFS employs a panel design whereby the entire monthly sample of dwellings consists of six panels, or rotation groups, of approximately equal size. Each of these panels is, by itself, representative of the entire LFS population. All dwellings in a rotation group remain in the LFS sample for six consecutive months after which time they are replaced (rotated out of the sample) by a new panel of dwellings selected from the same or similar clusters.

The Adult Education and Training Survey used five of the six rotation groups in the February LFS sample. For the AETS, the coverage of the LFS was modified to include only those households with at least one member aged 25 years of age or older. However, unlike the LFS where information is collected for all eligible household members, the AETS only collected information from one pre-selected household member and proxy responses were not permitted. For people aged 65 and over, the probability of selection was reduced since this part of the population is not the main focus of the survey. Therefore the bulk of the sample consists of people aged 25 to 64.

"Table I" that follows shows the number of households in the LFS sampled rotations that were eligible for the Adult Education and Training Survey supplement. This table includes households that were non-respondents to the LFS.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2003-02-17 to 2003-03-14

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

Collection was done using a Computer-assisted interviewing (CAI) instrument. The Adult Education and Training Survey (AETS) was administered to one randomly selected individual per household. The random selection was carried out at the time of the interview.

Upon completion of the Labour Force Survey interview, the interviewer asked to speak to the selected person for the Adult Education and Training Survey. If the selected person was not available, the interviewer arranged for a convenient time to phone back. Proxy response was not allowed; hence the collection period was extended by two weeks to allow the interviewers' time to contact the pre-selected individuals.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s) .

Error detection

Collection of the AETS was done using a CAI instrument; therefore, the quality of the data is high. Two major benefits of using a CAI instrument are firstly, ensuring the correct flow path of questions and secondly, verifying any inconsistent responses by using edits within the application.

A series of edits are done at the head office to ensure consistency within the data file. These include both manual and systematic interventions. For the AETS, several manual checks were done to identify logical inconsistencies. Also, a systematic verification was done on the flow path of the data. All questions that do not pertain to a respondent and were not asked are set to 'valid skip'. The flow path is pre-set in the computer application. As well, any non-response value is set to 'not stated'.

During processing of the data, nine Adult Education and Training Survey records did not match to corresponding records in the LFS. Thus, they were coded as out of scope and were dropped from further processing. When supplementary survey records do not match to host survey records they must be dropped since a weight cannot be derived for them.

Some records were discarded because there was key information missing. There were 14 such records and these were coded as non-response.

Data processing of the Adult Education and Training Survey was done in a number of steps including verification, coding, editing, imputation, estimation, confidentiality, etc. At each step a picture of the output files is taken and an easy verification can be made comparing files at the current and previous step.

Program and course names were coded using the Classification of Instructional Programs system. Verification was done on 30% of the complete file.


The imputation involved donors that were selected using a score function. For each record with duration non response (also called recipient records), a comparison was done on certain characteristics between the recipient and all possible donors. When the characteristics were the same between a donor and the recipient, a value was added to the score of that donor. The donor with the highest score was deemed the "closest" donor and was chosen to fill in missing pieces of information of the non respondent. If there was more than one donor with the highest score, a random selection occurred. The pool of donors was made up in such a way that the selected donor's value assigned to the recipient, in conjunction with other non imputed items from the recipient would still pass the edits.

Imputation was done in two steps. Firstly, imputation of duration for courses and secondly, imputation of duration for programs as both types of activities did not make use of the same related auxiliary information. The table below shows the imputation rate for each of the steps.

The Adult Education Training Survey imputation process worked well and helped to fill incomplete responses with the experience of other respondents with similar or identical characteristics. This will add to the number of units used in any analysis performed by researchers.

Note that the public use microdata file does not contain any of the imputation flags. The impact of this is an additional layer of confidentiality.


1) An adjustment to account for the use of a five-sixth sub-sample, instead of the full LFS sample.

2) An adjustment to account for the random selection of one respondent from the selected household. The adjustment is adapted to reflect the additional sub-sampling of 65 and above.

3) An adjustment to account for the additional non response to the supplementary survey i.e., non response to the Adult Education and Training Survey for individuals who did respond to the LFS or for which previous month's LFS data was brought forward. The procedure is similar to the LFS non-response weight adjustment, but grouping are based on different variables. Since we have the LFS information for these records, grouping variables include person-level as well as household level information.

4) A final adjustment is done to match the Census projections for independent province sex-age groups, census metropolitan area (CMA) counts and economic region (ER) counts (in a calibration exercise).

5) Finally, weights were rounded to fourth decimal precision.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects that could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. 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.

In order to prevent any data disclosure, confidentiality analysis is done using the Statistics Canada Generalized Disclosure Control System (G-Confid). G-Confid is used for primary suppression (direct disclosure) as well as for secondary suppression (residual disclosure). Direct disclosure occurs when the value in a tabulation cell is composed of or dominated by few enterprises while residual disclosure occurs when confidential information can be derived indirectly by piecing together information from different sources or data series.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

This methodology does not apply to this survey.

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.

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 proportions.

In addition, 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.

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.

The following table summarizes the response rates to the February 2003 Labour Force Survey and to the AETS.


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