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

Flexible working options are on the rise as businesses flex to attract talent

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 that 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.

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.