Report finds skills-based education and online learning top priorities for UK adults and employers – FE News

Online learning and skills-based education come top of the class for majority of UK adults and employers

  • Online learning platforms are ranked among the best training providers for new skills by a third of the British population

  • Yet almost four out of five UK adults still perceive barriers to accessing education

  • Consumers and employers would especially like to see basic financial skills, mental health and life skills added to national curriculum – the global learning platform whose mission is to transform access to education – launches its second report on The future of learning today, exploring key trends in education and learning from UK consumers and the voices of industry experts.

The report, which surveyed 2,000 consumers and more than 500 employers of all ages and backgrounds across the country, breaks down current attitudes toward the education and learning system, a post-pandemic view of how and what people hope to learn in the future, and the skills professionals and employers prioritize for the future economy.


One of the main conclusions of the report is that e-learning is today the preferred way for people to develop their skills, with a third (33%) of respondents choose an e-learning platform as the first vendor they are most likely to turn to for learning new skills.

Universities are ranked fourth in preference with 21% respondents who chose this option. It was preceded by colleges (28%) and accredited training from a brand or technology company (22%).

Online short courses are also the best answer for those who plan to learn new skills to advance their careers, with 31% respondents who chose this option. Additionally, nearly one in five respondents (19%) have changed careers since the pandemic, and for those who have taken an online course, 81% said it helped them achieve change.

Experts also explained why e-learning remains popular, with Professor Kiran Trehan, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Partnerships and Engagement and Director of the Center for Women’s Enterprise, Leadership, Economy and Diversity, University of Yorkindicating: “A one-size-fits-all approach no longer meets all of our aspirations. We love the idea of ​​being able to learn when we want, how we want, in different spaces, which reflects the changing nature of work. »

Andy Hancock, CEO of FutureLearnnoted: “The future of learning is, for the most part, already upon us and this year’s report shows that online learning has become an essential part of it for learners, educators and employers. As the industry moves forward, it’s more important than ever that we use the insights gained to deliver high-value courses, resources, and learning experiences that can guide every learner through their learning journey. throughout life and towards success.


As online learning has become an increasingly popular way to expand access to quality education, the report also explores barriers to education perceived by UK adults. In fact, the report found that nearly four in five (79%) suggest that there is at least one factor that could make the learning process more difficult.

The top three factors that most perceive to negatively impact individuals throughout their education are: disability and socio-economic backgroundwith a third (33%) of respondents choosing both, closely followed by appearance(32%). Personal appearance and race are also problems perceived according to 32% and 29% respondents respectively.

Yvonne Chien, Director of Growth at FutureLearncommented : “While much has been achieved in terms of opening up learning opportunities to more people around the world, we as an industry still have some way to go to truly democratize education. online learning can be an incredibly powerful tool to help overcome some of these barriers that our report has highlighted.FutureLearn’s mission is to transform access to education, and we are proud to do so by creating a open, dynamic and social environment where millions of learners around the world can come together to share views, gain knowledge and learn new skills, regardless of their situation or background.


The Future of Learning 2022 report asks consumers and employers what skills, if any, they believe are lacking in the national curriculum and found that life skills are the most desirable.

The top three skills consumers and employers want to see in the curriculum are:

  • Day-to-day financial management (39% consumers and 40% employers)

  • Mental Health (39% consumers and 35% employers)

  • Know-how such as building, carpentry and electricity (28% consumers and 30% employers)

In terms of formal qualifications, the report found a similar shift in attitude towards more practical and applied accreditations and micro-credentials, among both consumers and employers.

Microcredits are cited as one of the top three education-specific qualifications that employers look for on the CV of their ideal candidate (14%)next to competence-based qualifications like BTEC and T-Levels (26%) at number one and school grades (22%) at number two. The growth in popularity of Microcredentials is supported by a growing number of institutes like the Open University, Deakin University, University of Glasgow and other FutureLearn partners to develop over 50 of these stackable credentials since their launch in 2020, in areas such as sustainability. and education, health care, and business and management.

Consumers are broadly aligned with these expectations about the kind of education they think would get them the job they want, with one in five (20%) Choose Vocational training and apprenticeship as route number one, followed by competence-based qualifications (18%) and a combination of degree and short courses (17%).

Download a full copy of The Future of Learning 2022 report here.