A quarter of British adults wish they had learnt coding at school

Many working Brits feel their outdated education left them unprepared for the realities of an increasingly digital world

A new study by Matalan has revealed that 25% of British adults wish they had been taught crucial digital skills – including in coding and graphic design – at school, stating that the noticeable lack of these subjects throughout their education left them unprepared for the realities of an increasingly digital world.

While the majority of children are now back at school, the new ‘rule of six’ posed by prime minister Boris Johnson, which comes into force on Monday 14 September, throws the concept of ‘normality’ back into question, and makes the prospect of a second lockdown for the UK undeniably real.

A restricted, and in most cases ‘blended’, curriculum is fast becoming the norm for today’s education providers. In light of this, Matalan surveyed 1,000 adults, working alongside The Open University to uncover the most in-demand free learning programmes throughout the lockdown period, also analysing YouTube search data to find out what skills people were teaching themselves.

The findings helped to identify key areas of life that many adults felt school did not prepare them for. While traditional core subjects such as English and maths are still integral to success in adult life, there were other key areas – many of them digital – which they felt were lacking.

According to the study, 45-54-year-olds were most interested in areas of technical creativity – including coding and graphic design – with 26% of respondents in this age group stating they wish they’d had the chance to pursue these subjects in school.

When it comes to technical creativity, many people are taking learning into their own hands, with YouTube data unveiling 72,400 monthly searches for the phrase ‘graphic design’, and 59,22 monthly searches for ‘coding’.

On top of this, 15% said they wish they had been taught more about internet safety; it seems that those in the South West region felt their education was most lacking in this field, with 18% saying they wish they’d been taught more about it in school.

Londoners displayed the greatest interest in coding and graphic design, with 30% agreeing that these topics should be included in the curriculum.

Respondents in Northern Ireland had the least interest in technical creativity, with just 7% of people in this region saying they wish they had studied it in school.

The top 10 skills and subjects Brits wish they’d been taught in school

Rank Subject Percent of Brits
1 Self-confidence & mental health management 81%
2 Money management & investing 67%
3 Critical thinking skills 28%
4 Public speaking 27%
5 Coding & graphic design 25%
6 Conflict management 24%
7 Relationship values 21%
8 Creating positive relationships with food 17%
9 Internet safety 15%
10 Gender and LGBTQ+ education 7%

Jeff Howarth, director of marketing at Matalan, commented: “Our study shows there is a significant shift taking place towards a desire to see the curriculum going beyond academic education. While core subjects such as maths and English are vital for young people, it’s clear that life skills that have real-world application are also essential to preparing our young people for adult life.”

In related news: Online learning ‘crucial’ to UK’s education catch-up plan


Leave a Reply