In Dual Universe, you won't have a character level. In fact, it will be more a horizontal character progression like EvE Online: Players will be able to learn skills from various fields of activity right from the start and we're trying to design them in a way that the first level of a skill for a basic activity (gathering resources, piloting a construct, using a weapon, etc) can be researched in a matter of minutes, to make all basic types of gameplay available very quickly. For each basic skill, there will be a skill tree. Advanced skills will provide efficiency improvements, or unlock the ability to use advanced tech for a specific activity.
Here is how learning skills is represented on the lore side: Cryogenic sleep maintained during several millenia has damaged memories of the Arkship passengers. It doesn't affect instinctive memory like the ability to talk, walk and such, but knowledge is gone for the most part. Arkship passengers might even have forgotten their family in the process, as an unplanned side effect (after all, cryogenic technology has never been tested on such a long period before!). The way to compensate this memory loss is to learn again selected knowledge through brain implant over time (a bit like when Neo learns KungFu in the film "Matrix", but at a much slower pace). The interesting thing is this automatic and perpetual learning doesn't prevent the character to practise another activity in the meantime. It's like a task running in the background onn a computer. Such automatic learning isn't stopping when you disconnect from the game.