The European Union has set a goal that by 2010, 12.5% of the working age population should be taking part in lifelong learning. This participation rate has not yet been achieved in many countries. A partial explanation is the fact that the decision to participate depends on a variety of factors at three levels: the individual; the educational provisions; and the socio-economic context, including the regulating authorities. The authors of this article provide insights into the matching process in the educational market, discussing the relevant literature on this issue, including the modelling used in the research literature. In the final section of the article, the authors present an outline of an integrated model of participation in adult education, aimed at creating a better understanding of the complexity of participation and the factors that affect the three levels of the educational market.