Methods of learning

These charts show the methods of learning used by adults. Most surveys from 2009 onwards included a question asking current and recent learners, how they did their learning.

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

  • Work based training e.g. ‘on the job’, ‘on a training course at work’;
  • School, further education and higher education e.g. ‘through a university’, ‘through a further education college’;
  • Other locally based training e.g. ‘through a local adult education centre’, ‘through a leisure or health club’;
  • Online e.g. ‘through an app’, ‘through YouTube’;
  • Independently e.g. ‘independently on my own’, ‘independently with others’.

Up until 2015, around two-fifths of adults each year said that they learnt through school, further education or higher education. This declined to around a third in 2017, 2018 and 2019, and to around a quarter in 2021.Between 26 to 36 per cent of adults each year say that they learnt through work. The proportion of adults saying that they learnt independently ranges between 14 and 29 per cent each year. Prior to 2021 fewer than one in 10 adults were learning through other locally based training. In 2021, this increased to 12 per cent of adults.

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 how learning was completed.