This investigation examines the place of initial and further education in continuing education and training over the life-course of workers across Europe. The evidence presented demonstrates that in countries with a strong orientation towards vocational education, participation in continuing education and training among employees is higher than in countries that mainly provide general education. Moreover, it can be seen that the effect of the vocational orientation of the education system increases over the life-course of workers. The conclusion of this investigation is that further education complements rather than substitutes for initial education. This implies that national education and training policies meant to encourage lifelong learning should not only attempt to expand or redirect training received by already experienced workers, but also try to facilitate participation in initial vocational training. © Springer 2005.