Global Survey Reveals Major Shift in Education Toward Do-It-Yourself Learning

LONDON, Sept. 17, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Pearson, the world's learning company, today released the results of its Global Learner Survey, a new study capturing the voice of learners worldwide. The findings point to massive global transformation in education driven by the shifting economic landscape of the new talent economy, the vast influence of technology and perceptions that education systems are out of step with learners. The study shows that learners around the world are now taking control of their education through a "do-it-yourself" (DIY) mindset, adding to their formal education with a mix of self teaching, short courses and online learning to keep pace with the talent economy. The survey also shows that learners are thinking beyond the traditional notions of learning, signaling a massive opportunity for education providers to reinvent learning to meet the needs of a new economy.

Pearson conducted the study with Harris Insights & Analytics to give learners in 19 countries the opportunity to voice their opinions on primary, secondary and higher education; careers and the future of work; and technology. More than 11,000 people, ranging in age from 16 to 70, participated in the poll. The survey is the most comprehensive and wide ranging global public opinion survey of learners to date. In addition, Pearson released today Opportunity for Higher Education in the Era of the Talent Economy, a guide to the survey's implications and opportunities for higher education.

"Gig jobs, unconventional careers, tech disruption and lifelong learning have ushered in the talent economy. Now more than ever, learners understand the need for lifelong education," said John Fallon, chief executive of Pearson. "People are meeting the demands of this new world of work by taking control of their own learning. Now, technology and innovation are giving educators, governments and companies the greatest opportunity in human history to rise to the occasion and improve lives through education."

The Global Learner Survey's top findings include:

    --  A DIY mindset is reshaping education: People are layering on to their
        traditional education by mixing and matching what works and what they
        can afford to get trained up for the new economy. Globally, 81% of
        people say that learning will become more self-service as people get
        older. Americans, Australians and South Africans agree most strongly.
        When they have to retrain for work, 42% of learners in the US and 50% of
        learners in China and India self-taught using internet resources. When
        asked what learning methods they prefer when upskilling, about 80% of
        learners in China, the US, Australia and Europe cited professional short
        courses or online tools.
    --  In the next decade digital and virtual learning will be the new normal.
        80% of Americans believe that smart devices and apps will be used to
        help learners, with people in countries like China and Brazil even more
        enthusiastic about their use. Globally, 76% of people believe that
        college students will be taking online courses within 10 years and 67%
        believe more primary and secondary students will too. 70% of Americans
        believe that print textbooks will be obsolete in five years. Nearly 70%
        of people in the US, UK and Europe and 90% of people in China believe
        that AI will have a positive impact on education.
    --  Lifelong learning is not just a philosophy, it's the new reality:
        Globally, there is wide agreement that people need to keep learning
        throughout their career to stay up-to-date in their careers. 87% of
        Americans embrace lifelong learning, believing that learning doesn't
        stop at school. That belief rises to 96% of people in China and 94% of
        people in South Africa. 73% of Americans like to reinvent themselves by
        learning new skills, and 52% intend to "retire" the traditional concept
        of retirement by pursuing a second career or part time job, starting a
        business or taking classes.
    --  Confidence in education systems is wavering, especially in the US. 60%
        of Americans say education systems are failing the current generation.
        That perception is just as strong in Europe and even stronger in South
        Africa, Brazil and Hispano America. 67% of Americans believe college is
        getting more out of reach for the average student. Almost as many in the
        US don't believe colleges and universities are teaching the right skills
        for today's jobs.
    --  Gen Z thinks you can be successful without a traditional college
        education. Despite statistics showing a higher lifetime earnings with a
        college degree, half of Gen Z learners in the US, UK and Australia think
        you can do "ok" in life without it. Globally, 68% of learners think you
        can do just as well with an education from a vocational or trade school.
    --  China, India, Brazil and Hispano America are outpacing the US and UK in
        the upskilling race and defining a new global economy. More than
        anywhere else in the world, people in China, Brazil, India and Hispano
        American believe education is driving the global economy. More than
        two-thirds of learners in these countries have been looking to re-skill
        in the past two years, compared to only 31% of Americans and 24% of
        British learners. Workers who do upskill are enrolling in short courses,
        taking courses offered by their employers or professional associations,
        degree programs or are self-teaching.
    --  Soft skills have an advantage over automation: While STEM skills aren't
        forgotten, many also realize that uniquely human skills will give them
        the edge over machines and that they are very hard to learn. Globally,
        78% of people say they need to do more to develop soft skills like
        critical thinking, problem solving and creativity, while 85% of
        Americans and 91% of Chinese believe universities need to increase their
        focus on teaching these skills in preparation for the job market.
    --  Americans also feel strongly about safety in schools and access to
        education: 84% of Americans say schools are less safe than 25 years ago,
        the highest percentage in the world and just as many say bullying
        (online and in person) is making school more difficult for children.
        Ahead of the 2020 presidential election, 71% of Americans agree that
        government should provide some kind of free higher education. On the
        heels of the college admission scandal, 72% of Americans say
        universities care more about their reputation than educating students.
    --  Learners in the UK have their own concerns: 77% of people in the UK say
        social media has made the school environment more difficult for
        students, while less than half say it actually improves learning. 46% of
        those in the UK would rethink their higher education decision and get
        vocational training or go straight to work. More than anyone else in the
        world, UK learners felt higher education didn't prepare them for their
        chosen career.

To view the full findings of the Global Learner Survey and Opportunity for Higher Education in the Era of the Talent Economy visit:

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