We need learning that fits individual needs and circumstances
Individual barriers to learning – such as lack of motivation, time and money to learn – must be tackled both through design of training (which needs to be tailored to the learner) and additional rights and entitlements that enable more at-risk workers to participate in learning.
While there are numerous initiatives, trials, programmes and types of provision that aim to provide skills solutions, Nesta’s review of evidence shows that people in low-paid work often don’t have the time, motivation or money to undertake training. Those in temporary or precarious employment, or those who are unemployed, often miss out completely because training is usually provided by employers. Almost half (49 per cent) of adults from the lowest socioeconomic groups in the UK have received no training at all since leaving school.
Nesta is working to identify and develop new products and programmes that could motivate people in low-skilled, at-risk jobs to learn skills relevant for the future. In the UK we’ve partnered with the Department for Education, and in the Nordics and Benelux regions we’ve partnered with Google.org.
To support more people to develop the skills they will need for the future world of work, we are calling on:
- Learning providers to take into account barriers to learning and an understanding of people’s motivations to learn, through personalisation of content and delivery and through the use of behavioural nudges that increase the agency of participants as they learn.
- Local governments to experiment with individual learning accounts (such as the ones piloted in Scotland and Wales) to enable at-risk workers to learn, even when they can’t access training through their jobs. To test what levels work best in stimulating change, we propose initial annual entitlements of £500-£1500 supported by rights to paid time off, and shared learning with other countries like Canada, France and Singapore that are attempting similar experiments.
- Government departments (for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, for Work and Pensions and for Education) to work together to provide additional rights for workers who have been identified as being at risk of job loss. This might include, for example, the right to take time off work to re-train (updating the currently restrictive time off work policy), and the right to financial support to re-train (similar to Swedish job security councils that provide financial and job counselling support, financed by employers, to help people back into work).
- The UK Government to establish a cross-departmental agency or partnership that brings together policymakers, employers, unions and training providers to address challenges in the work and skills arena. Taking inspiration from the Danish Disruption Council and the Dutch Technology Pact, this agency should take responsibility for setting the agenda for and promoting adult learning, ensuring that learning programmes are supported by wider policies, such as access to financial support or affordable childcare.