Learning for work is key motivator for adults Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 10:58
Getting on at work and having a successful career are the key motivators for adults to take up learning opportunities with those in work being more than twice as likely (44%) than those outside of the workforce (21%) to take part. This is the headline finding from NIACE's Annual Survey on Adult Participation in Learning, the full report of which is published today.
The overall figures for adult participation in learning (first reported during Adult Learners' Week in May) showed that around two in five adults (38%) have participated in learning in the last three years. This is a fall of 4 percentage points in just two years. The vast majority of adults who are learning - nearly four in five (78%) - are doing so for work or their career, while the remaining 21% are learning for leisure or personal interest.
Other main findings in the survey include:
- While younger adults are most likely to be learning for work-related reasons, one in five of those aged 65 and over (18%) continue to learn for work.
- The most popular reason given for taking up learning is ‘to get a qualification' (29%), followed by ‘to help in my current job' (26%) and ‘to develop myself as a person' (25%).
- Overall fewer than one in four adults (23%) are learning ‘to get a paid job', however, this rises to around one in three (30%) for those in socio-economic group DE and nearly half (48%) for unemployed adults.
- Nearly two in five adults (39%) say that they would be more likely to take up learning if it took place at a convenient time or location, 22% would take up learning if the resulting qualification would benefit them and 20% would if they receive some help from their employer.
- However, around one third (34%) say that none of these factors would make them more likely to take up learning.
- The most popular source for adults to find out about learning is the Internet with over one-third (34%) saying this is the first place they go to, ten years ago just 2% of adults said they used the Internet first.
- After the Internet, FE (8%) and HE institutions (7%) and public libraries (8%) are the next most popular sources of information; however, 15% say that they do not know where to go for information.
- 41% of adults say that they are likely to take up learning in the next three years, however, 79% of those who have done no learning since leaving full time education say that that they are unlikely to do so in the future.
David Hughes, Chief Executive of NIACE, said:
"Learning can have many benefits so it is disappointing that overall participation is declining. With only one in five people outside the workforce learning, many of the people who could most benefit are missing out. The survey shows that you are much less likely to take part in learning if you are retired, or outside of the labour market, if you are in a low skilled job, or if you didn't do well in school. It confirms that there are enormous inequalities in who learns in adult life.
This survey clearly illustrates that learning for work and your career is a big motivator for adults. This is hardly surprising at a time of such economic uncertainty, especially in the job market, but the many other benefits of learning such as staying healthy, helping your family and getting more involved in your community remain very important. Evidence shows that when people are given the right opportunities to learn, their lives - and the lives of their family, friends and colleagues - really do change for the better.
What I find most concerning is that there are many people who are not convinced about learning; around a third of those surveyed said that there is nothing which can be done to make them more likely to take up learning and four fifths of those who have done no learning since leaving full-time education say that they are unlikely to learn in the future. These are serious challenges for policy-makers, education-providers, employers, unions and charities who must work together to encourage more people into learning. New actions and activities are needed if the scale and patterns of participation are to change."