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Is Online Learning a Route Out of the Cost-of-Living Crisis?

22nd June 23

The UK has been grappling with economic uncertainty since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, further compounded by Brexit and the war in Ukraine. With rising energy prices and an overall increase in the cost of living, it raises the question of why individuals are choosing to invest their money in online courses. We here at learndirect experienced a surge in enrolments between June and November 2022, precisely when inflation was at its highest in the UK. This begs the question: why?

We asked this question to a sample of our learners as part of our trend report, The State of Learning, which provides insight into the commercial education landscape.

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Examining the Motivations

Despite the challenges faced in 2021, where at-home learning was still a necessity due to intermittent lockdowns, the desire to enrol in online courses appears to have increased a year later, despite the rise in the cost of living. This raises several possibilities as to why individuals are willing to spend money on education during these difficult times.

Job Readiness for Economic Recovery

One possible explanation is that people are studying to position themselves for job opportunities when the economy bounces back. With the anticipation of an economic recovery, individuals see education as a means to gain a competitive edge and enhance their employability.

Our research indicates that 34% of surveyed individuals believe that having a recognised qualification will make them more desirable candidates in a competitive job market. Furthermore, more than half (54%) of learners believe that studying a new qualification will put them in a better position to earn money and navigate the economic crisis.

Flexible Payment Options

Considering the financial strain caused by the cost-of-living crisis, it is no surprise that cost plays a significant role in individuals' decision-making processes when it comes to investing in education. According to our research, just under half (46%) of respondents found that the course payment plans suited their financial situation, making it easier for them to manage monthly instalments. Affordability was a significant motivating factor for 34% of learners who decided to pursue their course despite concerns over cost.

Delayed Education Due to Affordability

Interestingly, our findings also revealed that 39% of learners had previously held back from studying sooner due to financial constraints. This indicates that the cost of education has been a barrier for many individuals in the past. However, the availability of flexible payment options seems to have reassured learners and encouraged them to pursue their studies.

Education as a Pathway to Overcome the Crisis

During times of economic uncertainty, it is common for individuals to re-evaluate their lives and plan for the future. The research suggests that a significant portion of individuals believe that studying an online course will put them in a stronger position to thrive once the economy rebounds. Across different generations, there is a shared belief that online learning can act as a route out of the cost-of-living crisis. This sentiment is particularly strong among Gen Z learners (71%), followed by Millennials (50%) and Boomers (72%).

Better Your Life through Online Learning

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As the UK’s leading online learning provider, we have empowered more than 4 million people to achieve qualifications that have propelled them towards a meaningful career. With a range of nationally and internationally recognised qualifications available, learners can study towards a career change, career progression, or learn the skills needed for a passion project.

We provide courses across a range of industries, including:

Light at the End of the Tunnel

As the UK faces the challenges posed by the cost-of-living crisis, education is emerging as a potential solution. Despite the economic downturn, individuals are recognising the value of learning and investing in themselves. Education not only enhances job readiness but also provides individuals with the skills and qualifications needed to navigate the crisis successfully.

The availability of flexible payment options at learndirect has played a crucial role in making education more accessible and affordable for many. By seizing the opportunities offered by our online courses, individuals across the country are embracing education as a pathway to overcome the cost-of-living crisis and secure a better future. If you want to follow in their footsteps, click below or give us a call on 01202 006 464.

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