From the Editors

Adults are Anxious about Technology

Adults want to continue their education for a number of reasons. Among them, anxiety over technology and a desire to advance in their careers.

Eye viewing digital information represented by circles and signsAdults often have a lot on their minds, but according to a recent Pearson study, the collar-pulling concerns motivating them to go back to school have changed.

The global learning company conducted more than 1,600 online interviews with U.S. adults ages 25 to 64 years old in late July and early August of this year. The adults polled were either currently enrolled in a degree or certificate program or planning to enroll in one. Study results were released in October.

Among the poll’s key findings: Adults no longer feel that outsourcing or being replaced by younger workers is the greatest threat to their jobs. But their ability to keep pace with rapid changes in technology is making them especially nervous. Seventy-two percent of respondents said more education was needed to keep up with advances in their field; and 69 percent of respondents said technology would significantly transform their job within the next five years.

“As the global economy and student population change, it’s clear we need new ways for people to access to higher education,” said Todd Hitchcock, chief operating officer for Pearson Embanet in a statement. “Adult students are stretched with their current jobs, along with family and financial commitments. The higher-education community needs to look toward online education, certification programs and flexible in-person programs to meet people where they are and in a way that suits their lifestyle or career needs.”

But it’s not just higher education that needs to meet adults where they are with learning programs and services. Companies need to care about, champion and respond to this need as well to maintain their competitive edge.

While 36 percent of adult learners said they want to advance in their current company, only 14 percent report getting any information on how to do so from their employer. Further, 50 percent said a lack of approval or support from their company served as a barrier to completing their education. That’s a bitter pill to swallow given the connection that respondents drew between continuous education and their overall standing in life. The study’s results suggest a vivid opportunity for learning leaders to leverage their corporate learning strategy to drive business performance, and in the process help employees improve their lives.

Bravetta Hassell is a Chief Learning Officer associate editor. Comment below, or email editor@CLOmedia.com.