There has been a fall in the proportion of young people who are continuing their education through everything from full-time study to evening classes, research suggests.
It reveals a seven percentage point drop in the number of 17 to 24-year-olds who are taking part in learning.
Around one in five adults (19%) are currently involved in some type of learning, according to the report, published by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE), while just under two fifths (38%) say they have taken part in some form of education in the past three years.
But it raises concerns about falls among young people, and unemployed adults, who are becoming less likely to continue studying in some form.
The report, published to mark Adult Learners' Week which begins tomorrow, is based on a survey of 5,253 adults aged 17 and older, who were asked if they still take part in education. This could be anything from full or part time study on a daily basis, studying at home or work, or through an evening class, and study that does not lead to a new qualification.
The findings show that 70% of young people aged 17 to 24 are involved in some form of learning, down from 77% last year.
It also shows a six percentage point drop among unemployed people.
The survey suggests that the majority of people continue their learning for work-related reasons, which could explain the "significant differences" between the rates of workers, unemployed adults and those outside of the workforce who are participating in learning.
NIACE chief executive David Hughes said that the survey showed an encouraging rise in the number of people in part-time work who are taking part in education, and suggests that these people see a link between improving their skills and better job prospects.
But he added: "What is particularly worrying is the fall in the number of young people who are taking part in, or even considering, learning. If these young people can't see the positive impact learning can have on their lives then it suggests a 'creeping hopelessness' amongst them which could have lifetime consequences on their confidence, self esteem and life chances."