Time to learn


People invest £7.3 billion a year and £55 billion worth of time in learning. This is more than the Government and employers invest in learning and skills, but there are stark inequalities between groups. This report provides the most detailed snapshot seen of which groups of adults are investing in learning, and how much, and lays bare stark inequalities in learning. It calls for a new Lifelong Learning Entitlement to simplify the overly-complex system, boost participation in learning by those currently most likely to miss out and boost the UK economy.

Based on analysis of Learning and Work Institute’s long-running Adult Participation in Learning Survey, the research finds that younger people are three times more likely to participate in learning than older people and also invest three times as much per year (£3,900 v £1,300). This lower investment by older people is a problem given longer working lives and economic change require people to update their skills more often through life.

The same is true of investment by region and country. People in London (£1,400) invest more than double per person compared to the South East (£565) and Scotland (£624). This could put ‘levelling up’ at risk given the impact learning has on economic growth and individual opportunity.

The data come after previous L&W research showed that Government investment in skills is set to be £1 billion lower in 2025 compared to 2010, and that employer investment in training per employee has fallen 28% since 2005. Taken together, they suggest the UK is under-investing in skills and learning, and risks staying stuck in the middle of the pack by international standards. This would put future growth and prosperity at risk.