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Annie Hayes

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Demand for IT training strong among silver surfers

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The age of the silver surfer is upon us, according to research from the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE).

More than half (51.3 per cent) of all the courses that people over 65 are taking relate to computer skills. The second most popular subject amongst older people is foreign languages with over one in ten of people aged over 55 engaged, compared to just 4.3 per cent of people aged 17 – 44.

The report What Older People Learn examines older people’s preferred subjects of study, their motivations to learn, and their ways of finding out about – and accessing – learning opportunities. It details the benefits older learners perceive from learning, the ways they learn and their views on qualifications and fees. The report also identifies the key barriers to learning, the effects of illness and disability and also access to technology.

Alan Tuckett, director of NIACE and co-author of What Older People Learn said: “Learning matters in later life. It enables older workers to sustain their productiveness in the workplace and adapt their experience and skills to changing contexts. Older workers count. The age of retirement is increasing. Moving away from paid work is becoming a more prolonged process and less of an abrupt transformation.

“It is no surprise that computer skills are so popular for older people. The physical distance they have from family and friends is critically important to overcome and getting to grips with ICT helps to reduce isolation, quite apart from satisfying a desire to keep an eye on the latest developments.”

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Annie Hayes

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