Understanding how you learn is just as important as knowing what you want to learn!


How do you like to learn? It’s probably not a question you have been asked too often when you have been considing your education or future careers. That is because we spend more time worrying about the subjects that we like to learn and lot less time understanding the ways we like to learn.

But, as with soft skills, this is an important one to understand about ourselves. You may very well have always had your head stuck in a book. Be very adept at retaining information enabling you to recite all the elements in the periodic table and thrive off reading and digesting an academic manual to complete a fully developed argument in your latest assignment. 

For others, they learn through doing – starting an experiment and working through the different outcomes, being talked through a process whilst undertaking the job in hand or simply being the person that doesn’t need to look at the instructions – “I can work it out as I go”.  

Knowing how you like to learn can help you understand the best route of education for you. 

Whilst vocational learning has made a comeback in recent years, and Further Education has supported many young people to move into a vocational or technical qualification. The preferred and most expected route for education is still GCSE, A-Level, Degree. We must change this conversation to ensure that the vocational path is not viewed as less valid – it is. If learning and doing is how you enjoy learning – then it really is an education route that you should explore for yourself. And on the flipside of this, if you love to read and understand a subject through books and discussion – then you are a learner more suited to an academic route. Both routes are excellent, and choosing the right one depends on you. 

The Government has recognised this and is working to make higher technical education – increasing its prominence as a higher education route alongside that of the university route.

We are at the start of this journey, but if you haven’t explored the breadth and depth of courses available through your local college or looked at Degree-Level Apprenticeship, you should. Even more so if you know that learning whilst practically doing is how you like to learn. 

Academic vs vocational

Of course, for many, the academic route is exactly right for them, and this should continue to remain and encouraged and expected way to complete an education and start your career. But whereas an academic education can provide you with a broad range of skills and perspectives – it can also open up a wide range of career opportunities. Especially when studying more traditional subjects such as History, English, Maths and Geography. 

What is also possible through academic or vocational courses is a technical course that will prepare you for a specific career. As a leading think tank, The Learning & Work Institute reported in March 2021; the UK is facing a ‘catastrophic’ digital skills disaster. So if you want to ensure that your skills are going to be in high demand when you graduate – then an industry-led qualification route designed with a specific career route, combining digital skills may be for you. 

As with most things in life, the starting point is knowing you. What inspires you to learn, how do you best digest information, are you firm on the career path you wish to follow?

Answering these questions will help you understand your learning style and seek education opportunities that work for you. They will also ensure that you are working towards a career that you will enjoy throughout your working life. This is important when you spend one-third of your life doing just that!

Written by Deenie Lee – Apprenticeship Features Editor