Barriers to learning

These charts show the barriers to learning experienced by survey respondents. A number of surveys from 2002 onwards included a question asking respondents what had prevented them from learning or made it difficult.

Respondents were asked to pick from a list of options. These have been grouped into:

  • Work or time pressures;
  • Childcare or other caring responsibilities;
  • Cost;
  • I feel I am too old;
  • Other barriers e.g. ‘too far to travel’, ‘I don’t feel confident enough’, ‘I don’t know what is available’;
  • No need to learn or no barriers.

Year-on-year, roughly 10 to 15 per cent of adults say that work or other time pressures prevent them from learning, with a similar proportion saying that they feel too old. Fewer than one in 10 adults consistently cite childcare or other caring responsibilities. Generally, a similar proportion of adults say that cost prevents them, although for 2021 and 2022 the proportion of adults citing cost as a barrier is higher, perhaps owing to rising costs of living. Each year, 18 to 36 per cent of adults say that other barriers are preventing them from learning. For most years, around two-fifths say that there are no barriers or that they consider they have no need to learn, although in 2021 and 2022 this figure declined to around a fifth.

Use the boxes at the side of the chart to explore breakdowns of the overall trends by demographic characteristics. The buttons at the top show a separate chart for each demographic; the additional buttons on each chart can be used to show breakdowns by each barrier.