People more likely to continue their education for personal reasons than for professional ones

  • Lifelong learning as a motive: 85.6 percent of the international respondents find it personally (very) important to regularly expand their knowledge with continuing education.
  • Big differences in orientation: Respondents in Nigeria are the clearest about what qualifications and knowledge they want to acquire; Italy brings up the rear.
  • No return to the classroom: 38.5 percent of international respondents prefer flexible online learning with free time allocation.


Erfurt, 14 December 2021. The new trend study "The Future of Upskilling. Adult Education in a Digital World" by IU International University of Applied Sciences (IU) shows: Even though one in two (48.7 percent) of those surveyed worldwide would like to further their education for professional reasons, continuing education for personal reasons is the priority for the majority of respondents (65.6 percent). In Italy (36.2 percent) and France (32.3 percent), professional motives play the least important role. They are most important in Nigeria (68.9 percent) and South Africa (60.6 percent) as well as in India (58.9 percent) and Pakistan (57.9 percent).

“Education is not a question of age: All over the world, adults are looking to further develop their education, and they do so primarily for personal reasons” says Carolin Kreuder, COO Strategic Partnerships & Upskilling at IU.

85.6 percent find it personally (very) important to expand their knowledge with continuing education. How concrete the interest is differs worldwide: respondents in Nigeria (86.2 percent), Pakistan (83.5 percent) and India (75.7 percent) know most clearly what knowledge they would like to acquire. Respondents in Spain (56.9 percent), France (53.5 percent), Poland (55.1 percent) and Italy (50.3 percent) are the least goal oriented. On average, 67.9 percent of those surveyed worldwide know which qualifications and skills they want to acquire.


Other top findings of the study:

  • Most respondents are positive about learning again: 43.4 percent are looking forward to it. 11.1 percent are afraid. And 30.7 percent say they have to motivate themselves.
  • Few want to go back to the classroom: more than a third (38.5 percent) would like flexible online lessons with free time allocation, slightly fewer (32.7 percent) would like online lessons with fixed times. Only 13.4 percent would consider only traditional face-to-face teaching.
  • 37.5 percent of those interested in continuing vocational education and training want to develop further in their current field of activity. 20.5 percent want a career change. And 24.4 percent want to keep up with technological change.
  • The most popular continuing education topics are: Business and Management (30.6 percent), Marketing and Communication (25.7 percent), IT and Software Development (25.1 percent), Human Resources (22.2 percent) and Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (21.2 percent).


Please find the whitepaper here.

For most respondents further education is (very) important: Further Education? It's very important.
The majority know what qualifications and knowledge they want to aquire: The Majority know what they want.
Most respondents are looking forward to learning something new: Excitement for further education is high.
38.5% of international respondents prefer flexible online-learning: More flexibility online.
Business topics are more popular than digital ones: First Business. Then digital topics.


For the international trend study "The Future of Upskilling 2021", IU International University of Applied Sciences surveyed 200 people in ten countries respectively (2,000 people in total) in June 2021. The respondents were of the same age and equally distributed, half male and half female, in Brazil, France, India, Italy, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, Spain and South Africa.

With over 75,000 students, IU International University of Applied Sciences (IU) is the largest university in Germany. The private, state-recognised educational institution brings together more than 200 Bachelor's and Master's degree programmes under its roof, which are offered in German or English. Students can choose between on-campus study, dual study, distance learning and flexible combination models and thus shape their studies in a self-determined way. In addition, IU facilitates continuing education and promotes the idea of lifelong learning. The university's goal is to make education possible for as many people as possible. IU began operations in 2000 and is now represented in 28 German cities. It cooperates with over 10,000 companies and actively supports them in employee development. Its partners include Motel One, VW Financial Services and Deutsche Bahn. Further information at:

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