Common barriers to learning

Common barriers to learning

Many people find that there are barriers impeding their ability to access learning. These include:                                              

Social and cultural barriers peer pressure and family background
Practical and personal barriers transport; time; disability; caring responsibilities; childcare; finance; cost; age; language; and lack of access to information
Emotional barriers lack of self-esteem or confidence due to low skills levels; negative personal experience of learning; previously undetected or unaddressed learning disabilities; social problems such as unemployment, abuse or bullying
Workplace barriers

time off; access; discrimination; unsupportive managers; shift work; isolation


Learning disabilities

In addition to other common barriers to learning, around 1.5 million people in the UK have learning disabilities. Learning disabilities affect how people understand information, communicate, or learn new skills, and include difficulty reading, difficulty writing, and difficulty with mathematics. The severity of a learning disability varies from person to person.

There are specific learning disabilities which can be independent of other conditions, such as dyslexia. Some conditions, such as Down’s Syndrome, are always associated with a learning disability, whereas some conditions, such as autism, are only sometimes associated with a learning disability. Other conditions, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), are not technically associated with a learning disability, but may still affect learning.

Working together

Employers and unions can work together to promote equality and diversity and break through barriers to learning.

Next: Overcoming barriers to learning