Online learning platforms have emerged as the preferred way for adult learners to build new skills, ahead of college and university, according to a new report.
In The Future of Learning report, which canvased the opinions of 2,000 consumers and more than 500 employers, a third (33%) of respondents picked an online learning platform as the number one provider they’re most likely to go to in order to learn new skills.
Universities ranked as the fourth top preference, chosen by 21% of respondents, behind colleges (28%) and accredited training from a brand or tech company (22%).
Commenting on the rising popularity of online learning, Professor Kiran Trehan, University of York, said: “A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t fit with all of our aspirations anymore. We like the idea of being able to learn when we want, how we want, in different spaces – reflecting the changing nature of work.”
The report suggested that online learning could help widen access to quality education, with nearly four in five (79%) adults suggesting there is at least one factor that could make the learning process more difficult.
The top three barriers to access highlighted by the respondents were: disability and socioeconomic background, with a third (33%) of respondents choosing both, closely followed by appearance (32%).
Yvonne Chien, Chief Growth Officer at FutureLearn, commented: “While much has been achieved in terms of opening up learning opportunities to more people globally, we as a sector still have some way to go towards truly democratising education.”
The report also quizzed respondents on which skills, if any, they feel are missing from the national curriculum. The top response from both consumers (39%) and employers (40%) was for students to get more advice on finance management for everyday life.
Respondents also wanted to see more in the way of mental health support (39% of consumers and 35% of employers) and practical skills such as building, woodwork and electrics (28% of consumers and 30% of employers).