New research from FutureLearn, the social learning company, suggests that its platform is being used by learners to learn new skills particularly related to their careers. This comes at a time where the gig economy and automation are both increasing, requiring people to up-skill and re-skill to remain relevant in today’s changing labour market.
The research, conducted via a sample survey of its learners at the end of 2017, asked how the learners would use the courses on FutureLearn. The highest response (72%) was ‘to learn new skills’ but interestingly, the second highest response was ‘for continued professional development’ – almost half of respondents, at 47%. The third highest response was also career related with 14% answering ‘to provide evidence for my CV’.
In addition, the research showed that almost two-thirds of respondents (63%) had gained a skill that they could use at work since taking a FutureLearn course.
Kathryn Skelton, Director of Strategy at FutureLearn, commented on the results, “Over the past year, we’ve made a concerted effort with our partners to build a portfolio of courses to help people around the world learn new skills that will support their working lives. This focus was the result of considerable market and internal data analysis, so we’re delighted to see that almost half of our working learners that participated in this survey are using the courses on our platform for this purpose, and proud that almost two-thirds of our learners report learning a skill that they can use at work. It’s great to see that our strategy has had a real impact on the value we deliver to our learners.”
The survey also asked FutureLearners about tangible signs of their career progression as a result of taking a FutureLearn course:
Over one in ten respondents (12%) said that their career had progressed as a result of taking a FutureLearn course
One in ten (10%) of respondents stated that they had a salary increase within 12 months of taking a FutureLearn course
6% of respondents stated that they had earned a promotion within 12 months of taking a FutureLearn course
The survey concluded by asking FutureLearners about the experience of learning on the platform and whether they would recommend FutureLearn. When asked what their favourite aspect of learning with FutureLearn was, the highest number of respondents (81%) said ‘learning at my own pace’. Meanwhile, the vast majority of respondents (81%) would recommend FutureLearn to a friend or colleague as a way to progress their career.
Kathryn Skelton continued, “It’s not surprising that people’s favourite aspect of learning with FutureLearn is studying at their own pace. Anecdotally, we know that flexibility is important to people – and that’s why we place so much emphasis on accessibility, responsive design, user experience and, of course, flexible access to courses. The results of this survey illustrate just how important self-paced learning is, especially for people who have other commitments – like work. For them, the ability to learn flexibly is often the thing that makes learning a real possibility.”
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Founded by The Open University in 2012, FutureLearn is a leading social learning platform, enabling online learning through conversation. With over 7 million people from over 200 countries across the globe – a community that is continuously growing – it offers free and paid for online courses from world-leading UK and international universities, as well as organisations such as the European Space Agency, the British Council and Cancer Research UK. FutureLearn’s course portfolio covers a wealth of areas to promote lifelong learning for a range of applications including general interest, an introduction to university studies, continuing professional development and fully online postgraduate degrees.
The survey was conducted at the end of November 2017 and returned 1,132 responses in total. As the survey related to career progression, only respondents who were working or looking for work, 506 in total, were asked to answer the career related questions described above. Not all 506 people answered each question. You can see how many people answered each question below.
How will you use the courses you take with FutureLearn? (n=488)
Since taking a FutureLearn course, have you gained a skill that you can use at work? (n=472)
Have you seen your career progress as a result of taking a FutureLearn course? (n=490)
Has your salary increased within 12 months of taking a FutureLearn course? (n=490)
Have you earned a promotion within 12 months of taking a FutureLearn course? (n=490)
What is your favourite aspect of learning with FutureLearn? (n=481)
Would you recommend FutureLearn to a friend or colleague as a way to progress their career? (n=484)