New Research Uncovers Five Unique Learner Profiles that Organizations Can Use to Create Tailored Learning Programs Across Teams

Latest Udemy research offers best practices for how to design learning programs for effective skills-based talent management 

San Francisco –– June 26, 2024 –– Udemy, a leading online skills marketplace and learning platform, today released a new research report, Making Learning Work for Everyone: The 5 Learner Profiles. The global skills shortage and continuing talent gap have caused organizations to rethink their approach to learning programs. For many, the shift to a skills-based approach has become the answer to fill this gap, create organizational agility, improve employee engagement, and ultimately engage talent in a more meaningful way across the organization. This research offers recommendations for how leaders can develop effective learning programs that are tailored, accessible, and engaging to individual learners.

Making Learning Work for Everyone examined data from nearly 12,000 global learners to establish five unique learner profiles with specific motivations, mindsets, and measures of success. These profiles are roughly evenly distributed as follows: 

  • Devoted Learner (18%): Self-motivated, multi-topic learners
  • Social Learner (23%): Success-driven, externally-motivated learners
  • Confident Learner (24%): Proactive learners who like challenges
  • Emerging Learner (19%): Learners who prefer guidance and are building their confidence
  • Practical Learner (16%): Learners who prefer comfort and structure over challenges

“Skills gaps are one of the biggest challenges holding businesses back from accelerating their digital transformation and leveraging the opportunities presented by technologies such as AI,” said Greg Brown, President and Chief Executive Officer at Udemy. “Effective learning programs are essential to upskilling talent, keeping up with the increased adoption of rapidly evolving technologies, and successfully transitioning to a skills-based organization. In addition, today’s employees expect personalization in their learning just like they get in their personal lives. This research offers tools for leaders to empower all employees to learn new skills, close knowledge gaps, and ensure they can create scalable and personalized learning experiences for their teams.”

Making Learning Work for Everyone offers several key findings and best practices for learning and development leaders, including:

  • Design motivation-focused learning programs focused on intrinsic value. Rooted in decades of learning science, Udemy’s learning design principles suggest if a learner intrinsically values a learning experience, they are more likely to engage with and complete it. Yet, different learner profiles are motivated by diverse factors. Confident Learners, for example, are motivated by the way learning helps them accomplish specific outcomes. Devoted Learners are at the other end of the spectrum, motivated by a joy for learning and a desire to build knowledge. If learning leaders understand what creates intrinsic value for different learner profiles, they can increase engagement and help learners become more invested in building new skills. 
  • Gen Z is the generation more motivated to learn by external forces. The generational divide in learning perspectives is growing. Different generations in the workforce have varied perspectives on learning, diverse motivations, and priorities. Among Gen Z learners, there are more externally motivated learners, particularly Social Learners (18%) and Emerging Learners (19%). Baby Boomers, the oldest generation in the workforce, over-index on Confident Learners (16%). As generational demographics in the workforce continue to shift, learning teams must keep in mind these divergent mindsets and expectations to optimize future engagement. 
  • Multimodal and blended learning programs are the gold standard. Devoted, Confident, and Practical Learners prefer learning alone. It’s also noteworthy that Social and Confident Learners measure success by comparing their performance to their peers, indicating a more competitive approach to learning with others. Some profiles, such as Emerging Learners, are intimidated by social learning with proactive or competitive learners. Learning teams can address this by carefully structuring opportunities to bridge different groups and their preferred approaches to learning. 

“Foundational learning science principles show all learners have a universal set of needs to learn effectively,” said Justin Mass, Senior Director of Enterprise Learning at Udemy. “But not all learners have the same needs at the same time, or the same level, which can make designing programs challenging for learning leaders. By understanding unique learning profiles and their presence across levels and departments, learning leaders can create more engaging learning experiences that meet varying needs, creating lasting impact for both employees and organizations.” 

To learn more about unique learner profiles and how to successfully engage them, download Making Learning Work for Everyone: The 5 Learner Profiles. To learn how Udemy can support organizations in developing learning programs for teams of all sizes, visit

About Udemy

Udemy transforms lives through learning by ensuring everyone has access to the latest and most relevant skills. Through the Udemy Intelligent Skills Platform and a global community of diverse and knowledgeable instructors, millions of learners gain expertise in a wide range of technical and professional skills — from generative AI to leadership. The Udemy marketplace provides learners with thousands of up-to-date courses in dozens of languages, offering a variety of solutions to achieve their goals. Udemy Business empowers enterprises to offer on-demand learning for all employees, immersive learning for tech teams, and cohort learning for leaders. Udemy Business customers include Fender, Glassdoor, On24, The World Bank and Volkswagen. Udemy is headquartered in San Francisco with hubs in Austin and Denver, USA; Ankara and Istanbul, Türkiye; Dublin, Ireland; Melbourne, Australia; and Chennai, Gurugram and Mumbai, India.

Insights from this report are derived from a mixed-methods investigation in 2023 of approximately 12,000 global online consumer and business learners across India, the US, the UK, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, Indonesia, and Japan. The profiles were developed leveraging a cluster analysis of the survey data factoring in learning attitudes, learning motivations, perceptions of success, and psychographic profiling.

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