Learning How To Learn

Rapid advancements in technology means everyone needs digital skills to get online, access basic services and progress in their careers. The pandemic further highlighted how critical these are in order to learn, retrain or do our jobs online. But how do we motivate workers who lack confidence, don’t have time, money or support to do training to stay relevant and employed?

When we started FutureFit two years ago, the most disruptive elements threatening the stability of the labour market were carried by rapid technological advancements. The COVID-19 pandemic has further transformed jobs and skills requirements, leaving workers at a greater risk of being left behind in the race towards a more digitised and automated labour market.

Based on a learning journey of 1,109 learners whose jobs are or will radically change, Nesta conducted a large-scale training experiment and extensive evaluation of what works so that solutions can be scaled.

The majority of the individuals that took part in FutureFit had no-low digital skills, despite working in highly automatable industries and jobs. Almost 90 per cent gained better digital skills, using the skills and knowledge they acquired in their jobs and elsewhere.

The report builds on previously published research and presents primary data from our collaboration with 46 trade unions, training providers, employers and researchers in the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark and Finland. It features:

  • A new FutureFit learning framework presenting essential infrastructure and learning mechanisms for unlocking skills workers need to adapt, thrive and survive in the ever changing labour market.
  • 6 country case studies highlighting the key mechanisms that facilitate effective learning; inclusion, communities of practice, personalised learning aligned with labour market need, digital mentors and a learning mindset.
  • 18 practical recommendations that both practitioners and policymakers can use to transform adult learning so that interventions are responsive to the labour market and skills learned are tangible, relevant and easy to obtain.

Recommendations for fostering infrastructure mechanisms:

  • Engage multi-sector partners to co-design training and ensure it’s aligned to labour market needs.
  • Engage in international collaborations that give space for adaptations based on both local and national challenges, priorities and needs.
  • Action the evidence by putting in practice what you’ve learned from your partnerships.
  • Raise awareness and promote the benefits of training to engage hard-to-reach learners.
  • Tackle individual barriers to learning to ensure training is accessible, affordable and flexible.
  • Make sure employers are involved to guarantee good participation and training that is matched to their needs.

Recommendations for strengthening learning mechanisms:

  • Facilitate communities of practice that help peers learn from each other, share goals and boost engagement in training.
  • Personalise learning so that it includes learners from different backgrounds and is aligned with labour market needs.
  • Recruit and develop digital mentors who can motivate peers to take part in training and feel supported.
  • Foster a learning culture that encourages participation in training and develops a learning mindset in workers.


Chrystalla Kapetaniou

Chrystalla Kapetaniou

Chrystalla Kapetaniou

Principal Researcher, Future of Work

Dr Chrystalla Kapetaniou is a Principal Researcher.

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Olivia Chapman

Olivia Chapman

Olivia Chapman

Senior Programme Manager, Future of Work

Olivia was a senior programme manager at Nesta.

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Beatrice Bekar

Beatrice Bekar

Beatrice Bekar

Assistant Programme Manager, Future of Work

Bea is an Assistant Programme Manager.

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