The lack of development of skills in the UK is caused in part by a shortage of time and money, according to the Learning and Skills Council (LSC).
However, the most important factor of the two typically depends on gender, the organisation notes.
Figures from the council show that time is the primary barrier to improving skills for more than two-fifths of men.
But among women it is money which takes precedence, with more than one in three believing they cannot afford to learn a new skill.
Across both genders, time is a concern for 39 per cent of individuals, with money an obstacle for 29 per cent.
But with the LSC claiming that a new skill can improve salary expectations by up to £3,000 per year, the long-term potential could prove enough to overcome short-term affordability concerns.
The LSC recently advised learning a new skill such as literacy or numeracy as a means of safeguarding a career or even increasing earnings during the credit crunch.