Barriers to learning for disadvantaged groups

Research shows that participation in learning can have a host of positive benefits for the individual and society, including improved health, wellbeing and productivity. Increasing and widening access to learning is crucial to our future prosperity, fairness and inclusion as a nation. Despite this, the UK has seen a recent decline in the number of adults participating in skills training and publicly-funded learning. If we are to engage more adults in learning, it is vital that we understand patterns of behaviour, adults’ motivations for learning, and any barriers they face to their engagement in learning.

Learning and Work Institute was funded by Department for Education to undertake qualitative interviews to explore the barriers, motivations and triggers for learning amongst adults. The aim was to draw out potential levers for engaging adults in learning. Thirty-seven in-depth interviews were undertaken with current and recent learners, and non-learners. These included participants with demographic characteristics typically associated with lower participation in learning to provide insights on how policy and practice interventions can best target these groups.

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