Online Courses and Training Survey: Europeans Are All Business
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Online Courses and Training Survey: Europeans Are All Business

In this Marketing Report:

In 2020, we started working remotely, and we had a lot more time on our hands. With these changes, some of us decided it was the right time to gain a better insight into some topics with online courses. Sortlist surveyed 500 CEOs to get data about people use of online courses.


of people said they started an online training or course


The most popular topic our participants studied


The amount the majority paid for an online course

92.2% of online courses are worth the time and money

Did you start an online training or online course in the past 12 months?

From the 500 people surveyed, here are the results showing how many people started an online training or course in the past 12 months.

Percentage of people who started an online course in 2021 per country

49% of people said they started following an online course, and an equal amount said no.  France (55.2%) and Germany (53.6%) had the most participants in comparison with the Netherlands and Spain who responded more no’s with 52.8% and 56% respectively.

How much did you spend on the online training or course?

83% in total spent 500€ or less on their course/training and of that total, 27% of them didn’t spend a dime.  In France and Spain, the largest percentage of online course participants paid less than 100€ however, France was also the country with the highest percentage of participants paying 500€ or more with 29%.

Amount spend an online trainings per country

Do you think the training was time and/or money well spent?

In all countries 92.2% of participants said that following the online course was worth their time and money. On top of that, in the Netherlands and Germany, no participants responded that their time spent wasn’t worthwhile.

Survey: do people think investing in online courses is money well spend?

Curiosity > Time

Why did you start an online course or training?

Every country surveyed responded in majority that they started an online course or training because they were curious and wanted to learn more with 37.68% in France, a high of 54.55% in Spain, and a total average of 46.9%.

Survey: why do people following online courses?

Although the availability of time was the second most common answer, curiosity still wins with roughly the double amount of answers in France, the Netherlands, and Germany, and more than triple in Spain!

The pandemic didn’t give us more time, it made us more curious.

What Are We Studying? 31% in Europe Focused on Business.

What topic(s) did the course(s) cover?

Naturally, we were curious as to what our participants were studying. Business (31%) was the most popular course in each of the countries except for Germany who favours tech. Second, in an age of technology, 29.9% of participants took courses or did training in I.T, coding, and data.

Study: what kind of topics do people study with online trainings

Regarded as one of the top e-learning platforms, Coursera offers more than 3,000 online courses amongst other various certifications in all kinds of fields. Amongst its 30 most popular courses around the world in 2021, 15 of them are related to IT, coding, and data and only 7 of them to business… According to world trends, Europeans aren’t so much into what’s popular and are more business-driven than into technology.

It is revealed as much in Udemy’s Q4 Workplace Learning Index, detailing how, for example, topic consumption in fields like product development have risen by 160% in France.

Another popular topic in the past year that reflects current times, is personal well-being. Courses on this different kind of subject have appeared in the top 10 most popular lists of many online training platforms this past year. With 19% of results, health, well-being, and beauty is our survey’s fourth most popular answer. People are dedicating more and more time to their personal health alongside their professional one.

45% of participants search for their courses via personal research

How did you find out about the course?

Although e-learning is expanding at a rapid pace, advertising does not seem to be a leading cause for future participants to join.

Only 11% of participants found out about their course via advertising and only 2% via a promotional e-mail.

Study: 45% of people followed an online training after doing some personal research

The overwhelming answer in every country came from personal research online that totaled 45% of all participants.

Managers asking participants to take the course was the second most popular answer with 19%. However, this was only the second most popular answer in France (27.54%) and the Netherlands (20.37%). In Germany, participants were recommended a topic from a friend or colleague (20.9%). In Spain, advertisements did the trick (20%).

Online Training for Work? A Must. 47% of people want a personal training budget

Would you like to have a personal development budget from your company to spend on online courses?

46% responded that they already have an allocated budget, and 77% of them use it. 47% said that they would like to have one and only 5% that they didn’t think it would be useful.

Survey: 47% of people want to have a training budget from their employers

Although France has the highest number of employees with an allocated budget for online courses, the 39.13% of those who do not have a budget risk increasing the already 10% of total employees surveyed by Capterra who are considering changing profession due to a decrease in professional capabilities.

Without a training budget, businesses aren’t just wasting valuable assets for their employees to have…they are even risking losing their employees completely.

Do you think that instructor-led trainings are more beneficial than online training?

Our survey showed that nothing beats a good old classroom, face-to-face lecture. Every country showed preference towards instructor-led training rather than online. 

More than 50% of CEOs prefer to follow face to face classes than online trainings

Keeping in mind that our main participants in this survey were CEOs, team leaders, and managers, it’s important to take into consideration a generational divide. Could it be that younger generations prefer online-based training/classes/seminars?

The Final Module

Online courses and training have been a part of many people’s professional and personal lives during the pandemic. They have helped people broaden their knowledge and experience in various different fields of expertise. It was surprising that the availability of time was not the leading reason behind participant’s reason for starting a course, but instead, their curiosity. However, not enough employees believe that they have been provided with the appropriate training for their current job.

Businesses should invest in either in-house company training, or provide personal budgets for their employees. This will benefit both the employer and employee in moving forward together.


At Sortlist, we decided to ask 500 CEOs, managers, and team leaders of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to tell us about their online training courses during 2020 until 2021.

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