Motivations for learning

These charts show adults’ motivations for learning. Most surveys from 2002 onwards included a question asking current and recent learners their main reason for choosing to learn.

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

  • Work-related e.g. ‘to get a job’, ‘to help in my current job’;
  • Education or progression e.g. ‘to get a recognised qualification’, ‘to help me get onto a future course of learning’;
  • Personal development e.g. ‘to develop myself as a person’, ‘to improve my self-confidence’;
  • Not my choice e.g. ‘employer requirement’, ‘benefit requirement’.

For most years up until 2015, around two-fifths of adults said that they are learning for personal development, and a further two-fifths for work-related reasons. From 2017 onwards, learning for work-related reasons has declined to around a third of adults. Around fifteen per cent of adults consistently say that they are learning for education or progression, with fewer than one in 10 saying that it is not their choice.

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 type of motivation.