What the dramatic rise in popularity of findcourses.co.uk’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee FAQ page can tell us about UK learners today
In September 2020, the UK government announced the setting up of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, a landmark training programme that aims to give more people the skills to improve their career prospects. This programme went live in April 2021. At the same time, users’ interest in findcourses.co.uk’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee FAQ page skyrocketed.
The number of cumulative page views at the end of April was 25 times higher than those in February (when the Lifetime Skills Guarantee FAQ was first published). This number grew to 73 times at the end of May, indicating a continued surge in users’ interest in the Lifetime Skills Guarantee programme.
Given this increased interest, we decided to take a look at the profile of the users’ who viewed the Lifetime Skills Guarantee FAQ page and compare their characteristics against the users of our overall site findcourses.co.uk, as well as viewers of the free and funded courses. We hope that training providers will be able to use our insights to tailor their message in order to attract the right learners to their training programmes.
- Our core message - funded training is available to many learners across the country - is getting through.
- Interest in the Lifetime Skills Guarantee comes largely from people who are eligible (in terms of age and region) for the training programme.
- More women than men express interest in training.
25-44 year-olds are particularly interested in the Lifetime Skills Guarantee programme
Twenty percent of visitors to our Lifetime Skills Guarantee FAQ page are aged between 18 and 24. This proportion is lower than the 26% of visitors to the findcourses.co.uk site who are from the same age group. Nevertheless, the FAQ page saw a higher percentage of users aged 25 to 44 years old (55%) than the findcourses.co.uk site (49%).
In total, both the FAQ page and the findcourses.co.uk site showed very similar levels of interest among 18 to 44 year-olds (75%).
Since the Lifetime Skills Guarantee is aimed at adults aged 19 and above, this shows that our message has been reaching the right target audience.
More women than men express interest in learning
Female visitors to the Lifetime Skills Guarantee FAQ page (52%) slightly outstripped male users (48%). This trend is similar to that observed for the findcourses.co.uk site (53% female vs 47% male users). This gender difference is considerably more marked for the free and funded courses where women made up 63% of visitors and men only 37%.
Why is there a gender discrepancy with women showing more interest in both funded training and training generally?
One possible reason could be that girls and women have made significant strides in education in recent decades. According to a 2019 report by the Department of Education, females outperform males at virtually every level of education and have a higher level of qualification among 19-64 year olds.
While the reasons for boys’ underachievement are rooted in complex sociological and cultural factors, what many agree is that the differences start early on. A BBC report cites research that concludes that “boys are eight percentage points more likely than girls to regard school as a waste of time". In addition, boys tend to spend over one hour less per week on homework than girls. A former head teacher observes that “girls tend to understand the need to knuckle down earlier on - they take a longer view”.
When it comes to vocational training, an OECD report finds that UK women make up a larger share of vocational graduates (52%) than men. Interestingly, more men (22% of males aged 15-24) than women (17%) are enrolled in vocational education, indicating that women are more likely to complete the course.
What the above suggests is that women are likely to be in a more advanced starting position than men by the time they leave school and are looking to take on further education.
This is because women are likely to have better pre-existing qualifications that enable them to take on a wider range of education. Additionally, women are likely to have a stronger confidence in their ability to learn - a confidence that comes from their higher levels of achievement. This could then explain the higher interest in training courses by women.
Mobile is the preferred device by users to the Lifetime Skills Guarantee FAQ page
Sixty-five percent of users visited the Lifetime Skills Guarantee FAQ page using mobile devices. This compares to 52% who used mobile devices to visit the findcourses.co.uk site.
The higher usage of mobile devices (compared to desktop) fits in with the general industry trend of increasing mobile use in recent years.
According to a recent Ericsson mobility report, global mobile network data traffic has grown steadily since 2014 and is predicted to grow by a factor of close to 5 by 2026. Nevertheless, desktop visits still bring in the highest conversion rates in the UK according to Smart Insights.
It is therefore important for all businesses including training providers to ensure that their websites are optimised and adaptive to desktop, mobile and tablet use.
Lifetime Skill Guarantee FAQ page reaches right region
Ninety-seven percent of users to the Lifetime Skills Guarantee FAQ page come from England. This is significantly higher than the 91% of users to the findcourses.co.uk site from England.
This makes sense because the Lifetime Skills Guarantee programme is only open to adults in England. This also indicates that our Lifetime Skills Guarantee FAQ page is reaching the target course audience in the right region.
Nevertheless, it is slightly concerning that 3% of visitors to the FAQ page come from outside of the eligible country. If training providers get queries from these users, it would be helpful to point them to our comprehensive funded training guides for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Slightly elevated interest in the Lifetime Skills Guarantee from users outside London
London dominates the list of top cities that users to the findcourses.co.uk site come from. This is similar for the Lifetime Skills Guarantee FAQ page, as well as for the free and funded courses.
Twenty-six percent of users to the findcourses.co.uk site come from London. This figure is lower at 23% for the free and funded courses, and 22% for the Lifetime Skills Guarantee FAQ page.
As part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, skills bootcamps lasting 12 to 16 weeks have been delivered in several locations outside of London such as in Greater Manchester, the West Midlands, Liverpool city region and Leeds city region. This could have contributed to the slight increase in search interest that we see in the Lifetime Skills Guarantee FAQ page from users outside London particularly from Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool and Leeds.
The higher figures for site visits from outside London give some indication that the core message we want to send is getting through - many learners across the country could be eligible to study free and funded courses, as well as courses under the Lifetime Skills Guarantee.
It is heartening to see many users start to get the message that upskilling and reskilling are powerful solutions to help them navigate a post-pandemic future. We are also glad to see that our efforts to help our users find the right funded training - whether in the form of free and funded courses, or for training programmes under the Lifetime Skills Guarantee - are bearing fruit.
We’ll continue to improve our offerings and are working hard to ensure users can easily find the funded training they are interested in.
Want to put your courses in front of the right learners? Contact us today to learn how we can work together to make learning accessible to all.