The University of Life has never been more prevalent as over half of Brits (53%) have used the internet to learn on average three new skills. 

YouTube is the most favoured source with almost three quarters (73%) claiming the online video channel is the biggest teacher.

In our research, we discovered that self-starting Britons are proactively seeking out new skills rather than asking their parents (92%), reading a manual (88%) or even enrolling on an evening or weekend course (87%) with 43% proactively using the internet.

Of the skills learnt via YouTube, 65% of respondents said that they had reached an adequate level.  While 55% said that they wouldn’t have learnt these skills had it have not been for the internet, a vast proportion (81%) have gone on to use their new skill – a huge 97% of those successfully.  Almost three-quarters (72%) of these that have successfully up-skilled would, or have already, recommended others to use the internet as a place to learn a new skill.

The top 10 most popular skills to learn online are:

Cooking – 38%

DIY – 33%

Exercise – 25%

Learning a new language – 23%

Gardening –19%

Apply make-up – 16%

Car Maintenance – 12%

Photography – 12%

A musical instrument – 11%

Knitting – 10%

Other skills learnt include: styling hair (16%), slow cooking meat (15%), decorating a cake (13%), how to boil an egg (8%), how to do up a tie (6%) and how to carve a pumpkin (7%).

Britons think the most useful skills they have learnt via the internet are: foreign languages, DIY, car maintenance and computer skills.

However, some have used the internet for information on learning how to get dressed, how to tie a shoe lace, and how to fly a plane.

Kimberly Wyatt

Kimberly Wyatt, dancer, TV personality and campaign spokesperson says: “I regularly use the internet as a source of knowledge and have learnt how to do various things such as perfecting the great British roast and checking out new yoga moves - which I can practise at home. 

“It’s really refreshing to know that so many people have been teaching themselves new skills via the internet. From really practical things like cooking, DIY and learning a language to keep fit and dance, the internet is an invaluable source of information that 20 years ago we didn’t have. 

“Everyone has the ability and opportunity to learn a new skill and I would like to encourage everyone to search and learn today. Don’t put it off - it’s amazing what you can achieve when you put your mind to it.”

David McDonald, BT director of broadband and bundles, says: “The internet plays such a big part in everyday lives and this research really celebrates the positive effect that it has. We have instant access at our fingertips at home or on the go that we can literally learn any skill, anytime, anywhere.”