WFH Skills Survey

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Survey: 92% of People Learned New Skills During Quarantine

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Key takeaways:

  • 57% of respondents learned new skills for their own personal fulfillment, while 30% are looking for a career change.
  • Cooking and baking, arts and crafts, and personal fitness were the top three skills to learn.
  • Learning online and through apps far and away outpace learning through books or other means.

The pandemic has been hard on everyone. We’re inside more than ever with more free time — although parents are likely facing less free time than before. Still, Netflix and endless scrolling are the free time go-tos, but many people have used their extra free time to learn something new — a skill, a hobby, even a new language. The internet has certainly made it easier to take courses, watch tutorials and ask questions — effectively bringing the classroom to where you happen to be. So, what are the most popular subjects? What are the top reasons for learning new skills during the pandemic?

92% of the more than 1,100 people we surveyed are learning or have learned a new skill during the pandemic. 83% of respondents were between the ages of 26 and 55 and work in a wide range of professions, with IT, healthcare, education and manufacturing being the largest sectors. The questions covered how respondents are learning new skills, both online and off, and why they are learning them, whether it be for career advancement, career transition or just for fun.

Cooking, Crafts & Cardio Top Individual Skills to Learn in 2020

Restaurant closures and social distancing have driven many of us to start cooking at home more. It’s not surprising that more than half of respondents decided to get better at food preparation. Cooking and baking was the top skill learned by our respondents.

31% of respondents decided to develop their arts and crafts skills. A constructive and sometimes therapeutic way to pass the time, they can also be a side hustle — or new hustle — through monetization sites like Etsy.

Not all learning is sedentary though. Many are and being inside for months on end may lead us to think that our health and fitness would wane. But that’s not the case. In fact, more than a quarter of respondents have taken it upon themselves to champion their health and get their sweat on. Yoga, Pilates, and strength training are popular options for home workouts — maybe you joined the Peloton home workout revolution. Regardless of the avenue, it’s a good road to be on.

Meanwhile, 46% of respondents are working on job-specific skills. Web design, writing, media editing, social media marketing and skills specific to their jobs were all staples in respondent’s course load this year, ranging between 7% and 10% of respondents for each.

Many Learn New Skills for Both Personal & Professional Aspirations

57% of respondents reported the reason for learning a new skill this year was for personal interest. These interests range from cooking and baking to health and fitness to arts and crafts. These skills also tend to be less resources intensive. You buy food regardless, many materials for arts and crafts are inexpensive and working out at home can be done with minimal or no extra equipment. Also, these skills are hands on, so your computer can be open to watch the videos or read the recipes while you’re practicing.

At the same time, 30% of respondents are trying to make themselves more marketable to employers. By acquiring new skills in their free time, they may succeed more in their current role or switch careers altogether. These include skills like learning a new language, coding, design or about new technologies specific to their industries. These also tend to be skills that require more specialized resources and focus to learn.

Since We’re Inside, We’ll Learn Online

Most of the resources used to learn these skills are easily accessible on the Internet. From courses, both paid and free, online tutorials, videos and blogs, it’s never been this easy to learn something in the history of humanity.

Indeed, the vast majority of respondents are learning their skills through online courses and apps, with another 39% supplementing with books and other methods, such as mentors or self-directed learning. It’s even more impressive that the majority of respondents are working full-time jobs at the same time.

Not everyone had time or resources to learn a new skill though. Self-care is extremely important, and relaxing, watching TV or playing videogames was the number one reason people didn’t explore other skills. Some may not have the time, either because of current work obligations or caring for their kids or other family members.

Honestly, just making it through this time with your sanity is a win. If you’re able, it’s always a good time to learn something new and expand your skillset.


The survey was nationwide with a sample size of 1,108.

1,021 respondents answered “Yes” for “Have you learned any new skills during the pandemic?”

Respondents were asked questions regarding new skills learned in 2020, the purpose for learning new skills, tools used in the learning process, their occupation and employment status.

Respondents could choose up to three options for new skills, the reasons for learning and the tools they used.

The survey ran on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and SurveyMonkey on December 10, 2020.

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