Training and Development

Job fears see Brits proactively upskill online

It could be uncertainty around the imminent referendum. It could be all the talk of robots stealing our jobs. But either way there is definitely a tremor of doubt in the air about the future of employment in Britain.

What is interesting though, is that recent research from Hitwise suggests that the British public are actively trying to upskill themselves to do something about it.

One of the main takeaways from a skills event I attended in London last week was that individual employees need to take responsibility for their own learning. And while there may be increased uncertainty about what future jobs might consist of at present, virtual learning also provides the antidote, as people can help get themselves ready to tackle it.

This point appears to be corroborated by the Hitwise research which reveals that over 4.1 million Brits made ‘how to’ queries in the first quarter of 2016.  While 1.3 million visited an online learning sites like FutureLearn, Coursera or Udemy in the same period.

The findings break respondents down into ‘digital natives’ (those aged 18 – 34) and ‘digital migrants’ (those aged 35+). Based on percentage increases, rather than hard numbers, they suggest that 18 – 34 year olds are (3.9 times) more interested in the new growth area of coding. While those over 35 – who presumably have good employment skills already – are (135%) more likely to search for ‘how to be self-employed’.

The Hitwise database captures anonymised consumer behaviour including searches from all major search engines and visits to all web pages. These findings are reached via a carefully aggregated poll of the UK population drawn from monitoring three million British people daily across the internet.

I thought these were interesting findings but is important not to read too much into surveys like this. That 6% of the Britain population are running ‘how to’ queries certainly does not mean they are all related their own work skills. And just because people are looking at online training obviously doesn’t mean they will really do anything about it, let alone complete any learning programmes they begin.

Realistically, this research could be taken to suggest a general mindless dissatisfaction with work in general or an active desire to upskill for the future. I’m plumping for the latter but I suspect the former could equally apply.   


Also read:

Can we plan for jobs that don’t exist yet?


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