As we go through life, there are many skills we may wish to acquire. How to cook, play guitar, ride a bike or even learn a complex language. Since the beginning of time, our ancestors have been learning, from the moment they entered the world to their last years on earth. Learning is a vital part of our development as humans.
But sometimes life can get in the way of us acquiring the skills that we may need the most. A recent analysis from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) claims that five million adults in England lack basic reading, writing and numeracy skills, crucial to everyday life and being able to find secure work.
This means that they may struggle to carry out simple tasks, ranging from writing short messages and being able to understand price labels on food or pay household bills, to using a cashpoint to withdraw money.
As we grow older, finding the time to gain skills such as literacy and numeracy becomes harder. Many adults believe that in order to learn, they must attend night classes or courses that take chunks of time out of their schedule, but with e-learning, this is not the case.
Technology and online learning has the power to improve the skillset of adults across the UK. It can provide people with skills they did not previously have in a way that is both time and cost effective. Unlike one-time classroom sessions and courses, e-learning is available for anyone whenever they wish, boosting productivity.
The JRF report also found that a further 12.6 million adults in England lack basic digital skills, which is perhaps a reason as to why many have not sought e-learning.
However, the research also shows that the internet is considered crucial by the public in an era where access to public services and good deals for essentials are increasingly found online.
It highlighted the troubling picture of those not internet savvy being let down by the education system or left behind in the modern economy.
E-learning is the answer for many. To support this, JRF is calling for a drive to ensure all adults meet basic skills needs by 2030. Such a scheme would see more people utilising online training, undertaking the modules they need to develop literacy, numeracy, digital and/or English language skills, alongside health and financial capabilities.
The JRF believes the training should be grounded in the real world, related to everyday budgeting skills and financial planning.
Stephen Evans, deputy chief executive at Learning & Work Institute, commented on the study: "Everyone needs a set of basics for life and work in modern Britain. It’s shocking that so many people lack these core capabilities. This holds back people’s life chances, business's future success, and national prosperity.
“Our research for JRF should act as a clear call for a national mission to help everyone get these core skills. At Learning & Work Institute we’ve been trialling a new way to do this. The benefits of working with people and communities to tailor support and relate it to everyday life are clear: we’ve seen increased engagement in learning and community life, and savings to public services."
Virtual College is one of the leading providers of e-learning in the UK. From pre-school through to adult learning, Virtual College offers online learning resources and tools that help with training at each level.