Lockdown Learning Leads to Skills Boom

Career Climbers / 9th June 2020

With more time spent at home than ever before, the under 35s seem to be using it wisely – building up their skillset to help boost their career during a time of economic uncertainty.

Life is a lot quieter for many right now – no commute, no weekend plans and nearly a quarter of the British workforce are currently furloughed. People have been left with a lot of time to fill, with many choosing to use that time to learn or try something new. In fact, new research from flatsharing site SpareRoom has found that 61% of under 35-year-olds have been learning a new skill or trying a new activity during lockdown.

Almost half (43%) of those who are learning or trying something new have devoted their time to educational activities, like a new language, taking an online course, or even learning to code. The research also shows that 13% of this particular group have ramped up their side hustle by focusing on something entrepreneurial, like developing business opportunities.

Further, 39% of those under 35 believe their newfound skills will be transferrable to their current jobs, with 89% keen to apply their new ability to live and work outside of lockdown. Additionally, 21% of those who have learnt or tried something new is even considering a complete career change as a result of the pandemic.

Out of this group who are trying something different, 75% have focused on fitness, 54% are working on their culinary skills, 67% are trying their hand at creative disciplines like painting, learning a musical instrument or photography, and 14% are mastering the art of meditation.

DIY/home improvements (incl gardening) have also been a big hit during lockdown for those learning or trying something new, with 23% fixing household objects, improving their outdoor space, and re-decorating to help alleviate stress and boredom during this challenging time. One in seven (14%) of those doing something new has gone back to basics, keeping themselves entertained, and their minds active, by spending hours completing puzzles. Even perfecting TikTok moves, learning sign language and calligraphy have been taken on by under 35s in isolation over the last two months. 

The types of new skills & hobbies people aged 18-34 have taken up through lockdown (2,377 respondents)


Answer Choices




Getting creative (e.g. drawing, knitting, sewing)


Cooking / baking


Educational (e.g. learning a new language, a skill, taking a course, coding)


DIY/home improvements (incl gardening)






Developing business opportunities








Tough though lockdown is, there can be positives to take from an extended period of time spent at home, with 38% of those who have learnt or tried something new during the pandemic admitting they would never have done so had we not gone into lockdown. Further, 89% of those who have learnt or tried something new have found that devoting this time to self-education, whether studying a new skill or concentrating on an existing one, has also been good for their mental health during lockdown.

Matt Hutchinson, SpareRoom director comments: “Being in lockdown has its ups and downs, but it’s provided lots of us with something we aren’t used to having, and that’s time. That means a one-off opportunity to do things we’d never have normally done, and it’s great to see that so many people are using their free time to learn something new.

“Whether it’s learning to code or speak a new language, using the time to get fit or indulging a love of baking, it’s great to see that many of these activities will be carried on after lockdown and some can be transferred into people’s current jobs, or even into new careers. Could there be a skills boom once lockdown ends? It would be great to think so and that something positive can come out of a difficult time.”

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