19 July 2017

People with a job learn most during their work

People with a job tend to learn more when carrying out their daily tasks and collaborating with experienced colleagues. Eighty-five per cent of the time that working people spend on educational activities involves informal learning.

People learn just as much during eight hours of informal training as they do during an eight-hour course. These were the results of a survey carried out by the Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA) at Maastricht University. The survey was conducted among a representative sample of the Dutch population in 2004, 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2017.

The gap between highly skilled and low-skilled course participants grew between 2004 and 2017. The percentage of workers who took a course in the past two years is 63% for highly skilled workers compared to just 39% for low-skilled workers. A typical course consists of three 7-hour days, is generally concluded with a diploma or a certificate, is often mandatory (42%), tends to cover subject-specific skills (52%) and is taken to improve career outcomes (35%).

Off-the-job training
Employees can also learn from off-the-job activities, such as volunteer work, caregiver work, spending time with children and self-study. On average, most people spend roughly three hours a week on self-study. Highly skilled workers tends to spend more time on self-study (64%) compared to low-skilled workers (33%). Also of note is that highly skilled workers learn more from volunteer work and the time they spend with their children than low-skilled workers. On the other hand, low-skilled workers tend to learn more from caregiver work than highly-skilled workers.