Learning new skills online boosts annual pay by an average of £3,640

Learning new skills online boosts Britain’s annual pay by an average of £3,640 – the equivalent of an extra £2 an hour, study finds

  • Online learning boosts average UK annual pay, a Google-backed survey finds 
  • 10 per cent of the UK’s total economic output has been linked to online learning 
  • One in three British people have used online learning to help them get a new job
  • Employers are told to encourage online learning via video and search engines

Online learning is boosting the average UK pay packet by £3,640, or £2 per hour, according to a new study.

Britons are turning to the internet to learn new skills which is in turn boosting the UK’s economic output, according to the poll of 20,000 of the country’s citizens. 

The Google-backed survey indicates that many working people have used internet-based learning to increase their pay or to get a new job.

Work-related online learning that makes use of search engines, video and social media could not only benefit staff but employers’ productivity and economic heft. 

The report concludes that the more you learn the more you earn as people’s hunger for knowledge and self-improvement is directly impacting salaries and professional progression

‘What we found is really encouraging – not just for the businesses and organisations that are benefiting from upskilling employees, but in terms of the economy as a whole,’ said Polly Mackenzie, chief executive of Demos, which carried out the survey.

The think tank believes that employers need to nurture their employees’ use of the internet as a learning tool to keep economic productivity on the rise in Britain. 

‘Yet there’s a warning here too – if employers fail to support this kind of learning, or fail to recognise the skills that result from it, then we all risk missing out,’ said Ms Mackenzie. 

‘It’s time to radically rethink how we measure professional skills – so we can stop obsessing over qualifications, and focus on developing ability instead.’

‘Given the ubiquitous nature of internet access, we are continuously taking onboard and sharing knowledge with those around us and it’s important that we continue to do so to fully harness the benefits of online learning throughout the UK,’ said Ronan Harris, managing director of Google UK and Ireland. 


Search engines


Written guides or information

Discussion with other people online


Apps for learning

Quizzes and assessments

Interactive classes

Audio guides

Open access courses 

Twenty-nine per cent of survey respondents said they had used online learning to help get a pay rise, while 36 per cent said it had helped them get a new job. 

Nearly a third (30 per cent) of respondents said they had used online learning to start their own business. 

Two-thirds said they use the internet to learn new things for work in the hope it would help them carry out their role more efficiently.  

Londoners were found to be most likely to have used the internet to learn new things in order to get a new job, at 32 per cent, followed by the West Midlands (23 per cent), the North West (20 per cent) and Scotland (20 per cent). 

Only 18 per cent of respondents said sought to gain new skills online at the suggestion or request of their employer, suggesting the remaining 82 per cent are motivated self-starters.

In total, it was estimated that 20 million people in Britain feel that online learning has contributed to their professional output at some stage of their career. 

A little more than one in five Britons (22 per cent) say they have created learning materials for others to use online – with almost half (48 per cent) of those being 18 to 24-year-olds.  

87 per cent of those learning online are doing so for free, predominantly on search engines and video

However, only 45 per cent of all respondents said they don’t learn as often as they would like, with more than a third saying ‘their days of learning are behind them’.

Online learning is also improving our mental health, with 77 per cent of respondents recognising its benefits to our personal wellbeing.

For younger learners, community is the key, with 35 per cent of the 18 to 24-year-olds surveyed saying that they learn new skills at work by having discussions online with other people.  

The research also showed that it is not just work-related skills that people turn to the internet to learn. 

36 per cent of respondents said they had looked online to improve their cooking ability, while 29 per cent had sought DIY skills and 24 per cent gardening tips. 


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