Learning and retraining

Improved skills give people freedom of opportunity, providing them with the ability to adapt to a changing world, while promoting social mobility, inclusion and wellbeing. Within the context of global economic change, an ageing population, changing patterns of work, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution, people can expect to work longer, requiring them to learn and retrain throughout their lives.

However, the number of adults in the UK taking up learning has fallen significantly in the last decade. As a result, the rate of improvement in the UK’s skills base has stalled, meaning we risk falling further behind other countries.

Our adult participation in learning survey also identifies stark inequalities in access, with participation lowest among adults who could benefit most, including those in lower social grades, those with fewer years of initial education, and those furthest from the labour market while older adults are significantly less likely to participate in learning.

Our research focuses on how we can reduce barriers, encourage and support people to learn and retrain throughout their lives.

Find out more about how learning and retraining has been affected by devolution

The adult education budget (AEB) is one of the main sources of public funding for learning and skills in England. The AEB has been devolved to give a number of mayoral combined authorities in England more say in how funding is spent.

News coverage of our adult participation in learning survey