Time Management

Americans Aren’t Advancing Themselves With Their Pandemic Free Time

A once in a generation opportunity, but does this signal a looming crisis in the talent pipeline?

New market research from Ipsos measures consumer attitudes about ‘reimagining work.’ Learn more here.

16 February 2021 — Many Americans have found themselves with much more free time during the coronavirus pandemic, as a result of travel lockdowns and businesses and in-person entertainment shutting down. At the same time, the workplace is changing rapidly. Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield told the BBC, “What we can say with certainty is that the sudden shift to distributed work has provided a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reimagine everything about how we do our jobs and how we run our companies.”

But new data from Ipsos shows that fewer than one in four Americans have worked to advance their education and potentially pick up or polish skills needed for our post-pandemic workplace.

  • 8% of Americans say they have taken courses online towards a degree or certification
  • Another 8% say they trained on a new skill that will help them in their current job
  • 7% say they have trained on a new skill that will make them more marketable to employers in the future
  • 3% have taken courses in-person taught by a teacher towards a degree or certification
  • 3% received a new degree or professional certification that they would not have received were it not for the pandemic
  • 2% re-enrolled in a professional or technical school they started before but had not completed
  • 2% enrolled in a professional or technical school for the first time
  • 2% re-enrolled in a four-year degree they started before but had not completed
  • 2% enrolled in a four-year college/university full time for the first time
  • 77% said they did none of the above

Young Adults Looking To Build Skills

Young adults aged 18 to 34 were most likely to have taken steps toward additional education: 16% said they had taken courses online toward a degree or certification, 16% said they trained on a new skill that will help them in their current job, and 14% said they trained on a new skill that will make them more marketable to employers in the future – all nearly double the average of number Americans doing those things. Only 53% of young adults said they did none of the above; by comparison, 94% of adults older than 55 said they did none of the above.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interestingly, people with children in their household – many of whom have been far busier over the past year – were 11 percentage points more likely to have worked on new skills during the pandemic.

  • 12% of people with children say they have trained on a new skill that will help them in their current job, compared to only 7% of those without children
  • 5% re-enrolled in a professional or technical school they started before but had not completed, compared to only 1% of those without children
  • 4% re-enrolled in a four-year degree they started before but had not completed, compared to only 1% without children
  • new job skills with kids vs. withoutInterestingly, parents are investing their time in their kids’ education: 37% say they have increased their attention to their kids’ homework, compared to before the pandemic – and 29% say they are home schooling their kids.

Will there be enough candidates who have learned the new skills that will become necessary in the new post-pandemic economy? These are issues we will continue to track as the world re-emerges later this year.