NBN says 65+ Aussies are quickest-growing online learners

  • NBN Co has said that Australians connected to the NBN Co are twice as likely to enrol in online learning courses.
  • Most of these are Australians over the age of 65.
  • The NBN stands for National Broadband Network, and is an upgrade to Australia’s existing phone and internet infrastructure.

According to a recent report that was commisioned by the NBN Co, the Connecting Australia Report, NBN connected Aussies are twice as likely to enrol in online learning courses, and Aussies over 65 are the quickest-growing new adopters of online education.  

"New research reveals they are heading online in droves to watch tutorials, complete new courses and learn new languages" cites the report that used research from AlphaBeta's first national economic study of the impact of the NBN. "NBN™ connected users are twice as likely to be enrolled in an online course than non-nbn connected users, and are also more likely to enrol in online courses in the future." 

The findings were read as good tidings for Council of the Ageing Australia's Chief Executive Ian Yates, who said that digital connectivity is an increasingly important part of life for older Australians when it comes to inclusivity. 

“It has always been a concern that the digital world could be isolating for older Australians, but it is great to see evidence that many are utilising services over the nbn™ access network to make the most of new opportunities to learn online and upskill after their retirement years.”

The report also stated that the increase in online education that has been stimulated by the NBN has raised workers' productivity enough to potentially boost Australian economy by up to a whopping $1.7 billion in 2021.

“With almost two-thirds of all Australian homes now available to connect to the nbn™ access network, we are helping to provide more Australians, regardless of age or postcode, the opportunity to continue to learn online" said NBN Co’s Chief Executive Officer Bill Morrow. "Whether it’s an online formal university course or simply a ‘how-to’ YouTube video, the nbn™ access network will help give all Australians the opportunity to continue to learn, whenever and wherever they want. This will open up many opportunities, particularly for people located in regional areas.”

Jessica Wilson, National Director of the Good Things Foundation, found it promising that so many older Aussie were engaged in online learning, but pointed out that there's more work to be done when making sure that all older Australian have the support they need to learn new skills. 

“The Be Connected Network of over 1,500 community organisations across the country are there to support older Australians to have the confidence, knowledge and the skills to engage with the digital world. Clearly, having access to the internet is also important and the nbn™ access network will play a key role in enabling this.”

The report found that almost four out of five over-65-year-old NBN users were engaged in non-formal education, compared to one in two non-NBN connected users. Additionally, the report found that in groups aged 25 to 44, the proportion of people who were using the internet for online learning in NBN connected areas is 1.3 times greater than those in non-NBN connected areas.

Mid-Life online learners that were NBN connected and aged 45 to 64 were 1.4 times more likely to use the internet for learning online. For people aged 16 to 24, that proportion is 1.2 times greater for internet users in NBN connected areas than those in non-NBN connected regions, and 32 per cent of users of all ages connected to the NBN would spend at least one hour a day on the internet engaged in non-formal learning. 

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