Jobs are changing faster than ever now that new technologies, many of which did not exist a decade ago, are now an integral part of business success. The traditional education system cannot keep up and people need to continue to learn to progress in their careers. The phenomenal increase in online learning across the UK shows that for many, building skills online is the answer they seek.

What are people learning online?

In the last year, we have seen a 140% increase in the number of online courses taken in the UK as more people look to shape their futures. Nearly 400,000 people are taking 1.3 million courses to keep up with this pace of change in the workplace. Whether it be job-specific courses or courses focused on broader self-improvement, we see people of all ages and backgrounds continuing to seek skills to help them chart their own career paths.

The most popular courses in the UK are technology based, with web development, Java and app development leading the way. Overall, technical courses make up 48% of all enrolments in the UK. On the other hand, many people are also looking to build soft skills. Courses on topics such as interpersonal communication and time management have proven popular with Brits, as people look to increase skills that aren’t necessarily technically-focused.

Recent reports state that the UK digital skills gap has the potential to be a real threat to the future of UK business and the economy. Finding the right candidate for the job with the desired skills at the time you need them can be a difficult task. Enabling employees to upskill online can help businesses overcome this problem.

Four ways businesses can benefit from online learning

  1. Offering employees access to an online portal where they can learn new skills as they become increasingly relevant to their job role means companies will always be in the know on the latest app or social media developments – without having to recruit new employees.
  2. The convenience of online learning means that busy companies don’t have to lose employees for a day while they attend a live training to learn the skills they need. Employees can fit self-paced online courses into their daily work, without leaving their desks.
  3. There are reputable online learning programs where courses are taught by recognizable experts, so businesses can be confident in the quality of the training provided.
  4. Online learning can also help with employee retention. Having access to tools to build skills makes employees feel that their employer is invested in their development, which makes for happier employees and more successful businesses.

By Darren Shimkus, vice president and general manager of Udemy for Business