Automation and raising the retirement age: why is lifelong learning important?The term "lifelong learning" is believed to have first appeared in materials used at the UNESCO General Conference in 1968. Lifelong learning refers to the process of acquiring knowledge and mastering new skills throughout your life. Many people continue their education for personal development and self-realization, while others see this as a step to advance their careers. Over the past fifty years, constant scientific and technological innovation has profoundly impacted the learning process. Learning can no longer be divided into the time and place where we get knowledge (school) and the time and place where we apply that knowledge (workplace). On the contrary, learning can be seen as something that happens all the time as a result of our daily interactions with others and the world around us. Allen Tough, a Canadian educator and researcher, claims that nearly 70% of learning projects are self-planned. According to the Global AgeWatch Index, by 2100 the number of people aged 80 and over will increase more than sevenfold, from 125 million to 944 million. Already, workers aged 55+ remain in their jobs, choosing not to retire until they are 60 or even 70 years old. The realities of the labor market have changed dramatically over the past 30 years. Today multiple career changes are as commonplace as working in the same field throughout one's life was 100 years ago. The technological transformation of nearly every aspect of our economy means that we must learn new skills and acquire knowledge at an unprecedented pace and scale. But what skills? Companies need more than technical help. They need intellectual dexterity. The Strada Education Network analyzed over 36 million job postings, resumes, and social profiles and found that the most in-demand skills in the first half of 2018 were leadership, research, communication, writing, and problem-solving. When combined with technical knowledge, these unique human skills will become even more relevant in the future. Now and in the future, the most valuable employees will be those who possess both technical knowledge and human skills and can adapt to changing workplace requirements, according to the Pew Research Center.
Three reasons to keep studying after university
Workers who constantly learn are more competitive in the job market and less likely to lag behind in the face of automation and a changing work environment.
- To get a job or advance in your career
Recent research shows that learning keeps brain cells working optimally, potentially slowing the decline in our cognitive function and memory as we age. The best part is that learning can happen in just about any form. As long as we gain new knowledge, we keep our brains healthy.
- It helps your brain stay healthy
Many people learn throughout their lives because they enjoy it. Studies have shown that lifelong learning is a good way for people to feel fulfilled.
- It helps you stay satisfied
What forms does lifelong learning take?There are many ways to participate in lifelong learning, depending on your goals and needs. Here are a few examples:
Formal lifelong learning can happen at universities and research institutions. Such learning can lead to formal recognition in the form of a degree (e.g. a bachelor's degree or master's degree).
With self-learning, you control the pace and/or path of your studies. This is often online learning (for example, on CodeGym), which helps people master a new profession or go further in their current one.
Professional training usually includes options such as:
- workshops and seminars in the workplace;
- trainings, seminars, and conferences sponsored by professional associations;
- relevant TED Talks, YouTube, podcasts, magazines, articles, books, and blogs;
- socializing with other professionals and mentors to keep abreast of trends affecting your profession and/or industry.