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Pandemic learning loss affecting adults just as much as children

As children across the country get ready to head back to school after several months off from in-person learning, parents and educators are rightly concerned about the learning loss accumulated throughout the pandemic. However, it’s not just children being affected by learning loss; adults are being impacted as well.

A recent OECD report indicated that workplace shutdowns as a result of COVID-19 had a negative effect on the ability of adults to participate in learning and training opportunities. For many adults, learning is often done informally in the workplace, so without the ability to attend a place of employment, skills are being lost. These learning opportunities will not be easily recovered, and will be felt both in terms of business’ productivity and workers’ wages in the future.

Learning at work has been shown to have a positive impact on wages and productivity, making it a worthwhile investment for both workers and their employers. Modest investments in skills training can translate into substantial gains in workers’ skills and job performance, as well as increases in employment, job retention, and costs savings from reduced errors and waste. According to the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, on average, a one-dollar investment in training returns a benefit to the employer of $1.38.

The lack of learning opportunities throughout the pandemic has hit those who needed it most. Not only are lower-skilled workers more likely to rely on informal learning for skill development, but they also work in sectors that were more likely to be shut down and unable to offer remote working. According to the OECD report, the average worker missed between 60 and 90 minutes of informal learning per week during the lockdown, accounting for more than 75 hours of missed learning opportunities throughout the past 18 months.

One way for adults to keep up with their learning during this time is through free online learning tools like the ABC Skills Hub. The ABC Skills Hub is a free asynchronous, at-home program that offers a variety of literacy and learning programs, including employability and life skills as well as financial literacy skills, with new courses added each month.

With the ABC Skills Hub, learners are able to complete online courses at their own pace, save their work in progress, and download course content and helpful reminders of what they’ve learned. The ABC Skills Hub is fully accessible on both mobile and desktop and all privacy, data and personal information is well protected.

“While many adults spend most of their time learning on the job, during critical times such as these, it’s important to find alternate ways to keep your skills sharp,” says Elizabeth Robinson, Programs Director at ABC Life Literacy Canada. “We created the ABC Skills Hub specifically for adult learners who want to improve their skills and their job prospects at their own pace, in a welcoming and easy manner.”

To access the free courses on the ABC Skills Hub, visit to create an account.