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Is COVID-19 costing young professionals their at-work education?

An independent poll shows that businesses favour those aged 30 and over for learning development while people between the ages of 16-29 are more likely to fund their own learning during lockdown

An independent poll released today reveals an uplift in the nation’s interest for learning and education, with 32% of learners participating in free upskilling activities and 37% paying for their own learning. A further 31% of the public who had undertaken training since March 2020 had it paid for by their employers.

The research commissioned by Avado, the professional learning academy, explores people’s lockdown learning and experiences since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps most significantly, the research found sizeable discrepancies between age groups: employers invested the most in those aged 45-59, spending £1,989 per head on average. Meanwhile, younger people aged 16-29 were 10% more likely to be out of pocket, funding their own learning and paying £1,159 for their own development.

Mark Creighton, CEO of Avado said, “It is clear that young people value learning highly, and there is an opportunity for progressive employers to invest more in this generation far earlier, to support retention and shape the future skills that will be most relevant to their organisations. A lack of quality learning in this age group has negative implications for employers and the economy. For the UK economy to adapt, there must be an equal investment to help reduce the growing skills gap and invest in the future.”

The growth in desire to upskill since the pandemic has increased awareness in the value of new skills amongst employers. In response to this, many organisations launched free learning programmes to support upskilling in turbulent times. However, alarmingly 2/3 (63%) of people don’t consider the reputation of a learning provider to be important when selecting online learning, exposing the UK to irrelevant learning. Descriptors like boring and irrelevant were singled out as defining factors of ‘bad’ learning (47% each), with respondents struggling to identify what most experts would pick out as important aspects of high-quality courses. Only 26% recognised the value of interaction with other learners and group learning activities (22%) and the role that Interaction plays in an engaging learning experience.

“There’s a real problem here that people aren’t receiving a connected learning experience, or even understand what that is. There are many cases where fundamental elements of learning design are being left out, although many people don’t appear to realise what they are missing if they can’t spot a real learning provider,” said Christine Olivier, Learning Solutions Director at Avado. “Humans are social animals, and learning is enhanced when we talk through new information with peers, which is quite a different process from interaction with a tutor. Avado’s learning designers try to prioritise this kind of connected learning with flexibility because we know that it is the best ways to solidify information and new skills, and this is more important than ever in our current virtual state.”

Despite these findings, half of learners (49%) felt that their general knowledge had been improved, whilst 46% felt they had improved their knowledge at work. In addition to this,  32% had even secured promotions or new jobs. The majority (90%) of learners agreed they had used their learning at work since undertaking their course and that it had helped them develop personally (94%).

When asked what impact the learning had, research shows people enjoy learning and developing their careers: 48% chose to learn simply because they enjoy it and want to invest in their own progression. This was far ahead of the next most common reason, which was employer-mandated learning (23%).

In the press

Natasha Holland

Posted November 10, 2020