The World Economic Forum sounded an alarm in January 2020 by announcing: “The world is facing a reskilling emergency. We need to reskill more than 1 billion people by 2030”. The underlying message was that organisations, governments and society need to work together to ensure people upgrade their skills as organizations are reinventing jobs with the advent of advanced technology. The modern employee wants and needs to continue learning and obtaining knowledge for both personal and professional growth. The reasons for this are numerous, ranging from the fact that employers need team members who can bring more value to the company, to the fact that millennials and Gen Z are not interested in doing the same thing for the rest of their lives. This is why companies emphasize continuing education, and why professionals should also develop a passion for lifelong learning.
So, what is lifelong learning? When you consider the word learning, what is the first thing that comes to our mind? It would be our school or college. Most of us associate the idea of learning with school and college, of being children and young adults. But the ability to learn throughout our life has innumerable advantages and why should we restrict it to the first few years of our life. The official definition of lifelong learning is “the provision or use of both formal and informal learning opportunities throughout people’s lives in order to foster the continuous development and improvement of the knowledge and skills needed for employment and personal fulfilment”. Lifelong learning is a concept that has become a recognized buzzword in the recent years; as professionals realize that the learnings and knowledge that we gained in our early years is often not enough to sustain in a professional world with cut-throat competition, and this is where the idea of lifelong learning comes in. Lifelong learning is a term that is frequently used by advocates of ‘continuing education’ who believe that you should never stop learning. The journey of self-improvement and personal development should continue and become a habit both in personal and professional life.
A research published by Columbia University’s Teachers College found that the majority of massive open online course (MOOC) learners are university-educated, employed individuals between the ages of 30 and 44. The same study found that most learners enroll in online courses to improve their job prospects and performance in the workplace. And these are not young junior employees but rather individuals with a substantial amount of work experience. According to an infographic compiled by KnowledgeOne, the average age of online learners is now 34, up from 27 in 2002. This upward age trajectory suggests that jobs are getting reinvented and individuals need to upskill to make themselves future-proof and compete effectively in today’s knowledge economy. Lifelong learning is being embraced by everyone, and the advent of online learning has boosted the efforts of individuals towards becoming lifelong learners. These online learning platforms will be the primary way we all will access learning in the future.