Time poor Brits swap the classroom for the home in digital age

28 April 2016


  • Almost half (43%) of UK adults turn to digital platforms to learn new skills

  • Skills previously passed down through generations are now learned online

  • Privacy and flexibility is driving the shift to online personal development

     Almost half (43%) of UK adults have turned to digital technology to develop new skills at home, with privacy and flexibility driving the online uptake.

     The fourth annual Halifax Insurance Digital Home Report found that a range of skills traditionally passed down between generations are now learned either online or through apps. Two-thirds (66%) have learned or improved their cooking skills in this way, almost as many (61%) have developed DIY and home maintenance skills, and a third (30%) headed online for sewing tips.

     In addition, activities which previously would have involved face-to-face instruction are also now being developed online, with exercising (54%), learning a musical instrument (26%) and learning a foreign language (40%) proving popular.

    A widespread desire for flexibility and privacy is behind the move to digital learning. Nearly all who learn online do so in the privacy of their home (96%), and over half (54%) of respondents reveal that having the opportunity to learn on their own is the primary reason they use digital resources rather than traditional methods.

    UK adults also value the flexibility offered by online learning; almost two thirds (60%) of online learners say they prefer learning in this way so they can do it at their own pace, and a quarter (27%) like being able to track their progress themselves. They are also able to learn at times that suit them; people spend an average of 8.4 hours a month developing a skill online, most often at evenings (59%) and weekends (37%).

    The research suggests that a potential skills gap is being addressed by the increased availability of online learning. Almost half (42%) of people said they wouldn’t have had time to learn the skill if they didn’t have access to digital platforms, a third (31%) said they only wanted to learn in private, whilst one in seven said they would have been too embarrassed to hone their skills in public (15%).

    Some of the most essential life-skills would be among those affected by the absence of online tools; a quarter of people (23%) said they wouldn’t have learned or improved their cooking skills, or do basic DIY (23%). Additionally, almost a quarter (22%) said that without access to online platforms or apps they wouldn’t have been able to learn a foreign language, whilst one in six (16%) wouldn’t keep fit.

    Dr Kairen Cullen, educational psychologist, said, “The advent of new technology has brought with it many ways to accommodate different learning styles and offers individuals the flexibility and choice to learn at their own pace in settings that fit easily into personal situations.  One drawback for this type of learning, rather than more traditional teacher-led classroom settings, is that opportunities for socially interactive learning may be reduced.  However, social media and ever-evolving online teaching methods offset this to some degree, as does the fact that people now have access to a huge array of resources that can help expand their knowledge, thinking and practical skills.” 

    Despite this reliance on technology to access essential online tools, the research shows digital devices are still left unprotected. Although the average Brit owns digital items worth an estimated £1,826, only half (54%) say these are covered by home contents insurance, and a quarter (23%) don’t know whether their devices are insured or not. Furthermore, almost a fifth (18%) say their devices and gadgets are not covered at all.

    Martyn Foulds, senior claims manager at Halifax Insurance, said: “It’s clear that digital devices are becoming increasingly valuable, not only in monetary terms, but in helping people develop personal skills that were previously inaccessible. Rather than taking the availability of these resources for granted, it is imperative that people recognise the opportunities at their fingertips through their digital investments, and make sure that their devices are properly insured both inside the home and while on the go.”


    Note to editors

    Opinium Research carried out an online survey of a 2,051 nationally representative sample of UK adults aged 16+ from 8th to 15th March 2016. This sample was supplemented with an additional 229 respondents in order to have a sample of 1,052 people who had learned or developed a skill online.

    Halifax Home Solutions is underwritten by Lloyds Bank General Insurance Limited and has a 5 Star Defaqto rating. Halifax Home Options is underwritten by Lloyds Bank General Insurance Limited.

    Halifax is playing a vital role in Lloyds Banking Group’s broader push for financial and digital inclusion by encouraging colleagues to pledge to become Digital Champions and improve the digital skills and financial capability of at least two individuals or organisations every year. Lloyds Banking Group has made a commitment as part of its Helping Britain Prosper Plan to enable 20,000 colleagues to become Digital Champions to help people and organisations to improve their digital skills and financial capability by 2017. There are now over 11,000 Digital Champions across Lloyds Banking Group, with numbers growing all the time.

    Earlier this year Halifax also teamed up with the Society of Chief Librarians to create a ‘first of its kind’ partnership aimed at helping adults in the UK who have never used the internet to get online. As a result over 2,000 Halifax Digital Champions are available to boost the support of IT taster sessions provided through public libraries across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.