Updated: May 5, 2020
Learning is essential to our existence. Just like food nourishes our bodies, information and continued learning nourishes our minds. Lifelong learning is an indispensable tool for every career and organisation.
Today, continuous learning forms a necessary part in acquiring critical thinking skills and discovering new ways of relating to people from different cultures. To live a life without continuous learning is unthinkable.
“The only thing that is constant is change”, Heraclitus.
Change in your career, change in your personal life, change in your community and organisations. One of the most effective ways of dealing with change is with lifelong learning. Continuous learning is your self-motivated persistence in acquiring knowledge and competencies in order to expand your skill set and develop future opportunities. It forms part of your personal and professional development in an effort to avoid stagnation and reach your full potential.
Why Is Continuous Learning Important?
An obvious reason that businesses need to adopt a continuous learning strategy is so they remain competitive. This is essentially a given in the current environment as today’s highly competitive economy and intensely competitive talent market, demands companies to constantly upgrade skills and develop leaders to remain current and profitable. Continuous learning is also important to employees and today's workforce is becoming more vocal in expressing their learning needs.
A recent Deloitte survey looked at research and detailed how a lot of employees (especially among millennial's) are demanding continuous learning opportunities. Among millennial's, the ability to learn and progress is the principle driver for a company’s employment brand. However, only one-third of millennial's believe their organisations are using their skills well, and 42 percent say they are likely to leave because they are not learning fast enough.
Guidelines To Supporting Continuous Learning
Organisations don’t need to develop formal programs to support continuous learning but look to develop and refine content as a way of staying current and getting the information into the hands and heads of employees. There are several ways businesses can provide content that empowers continuous learning.
Look for credible content sources. Help employees discover sources of relevant, quality content by curating and leveraging trusted content providers.
Offer a variety of content options. Options can range from short briefs to in-depth articles, different genres of video and even structured learning experiences that allow for practice and reflection. Meet different learning styles and needs, and make sure you offer content for all levels within your organisation.
Make sure content is broadly available. Use primary learning platforms with the content. Also make sure content is available in work environments to create multiple entry points. Leverage technologies like mobile access and single sign-on to remove access barriers.
Put content in an organisational context. Communicate why topics are important and how they align with organisational goals and values.
Provide tools for action. Offer ideas and suggestions on how the content can start conversations within teams or with colleagues. Make suggestions on how to apply learning in the workplace. Provide tools to assess where learners are currently and how to set goals for the future.
Inspire further exploration. Help learners discover places to continue their progress in certain topics. The key is to offer choice, enabling learners to choose the path that’s right for them.
Knowledge is now at everyone’s fingertips. Those not making use of this opportunity will remain where they are, their capabilities diminishing in its importance. These seven benefits should be reason enough never to stop learning.
1. Remain relevant
Don’t be left behind. Ensure you remain relevant to your industry by keeping up to date with trends and adapting your skill set. To function effectively amongst this rapidly changing world of technology, you need to learn new things to remain valuable.
2. Prepare for the unexpected
Lifelong learning will help you adapt to unexpected changes, for example, losing your job and having to depend on new skills to find work. By continuing to learn, you’ll more easily step out of your comfort zone and take on new job opportunities.
3. Boost you profile
When you’re always learning, you’ll keep improving and grow in your career and start to receive recommendations from colleagues and managers. The chances are that you’ll switch jobs multiple times throughout your life and you need to learn new skills to adapt accordingly.
4. Competence leads to confidence
Learning new things gives us a feeling of accomplishment, which in turn boosts our confidence in our own capabilities. Also, you’ll feel more ready to take on challenges and explore new business ventures.
5. Sparks new ideas
Acquiring new skills will unveil new opportunities and help you find innovative solutions to problems. This could earn you more money.
6. Change your perspective
Continuous learning opens your mind and changes your attitude by building on what you already know. The more you learn, the better you’ll get at seeing more sides of the same situation, helping you understand more deeply.
7. Pay it forward
Continuous learning isn’t just about you. Lifelong learning helps develop your leadership skills which then translates into fostering lifelong learning in other individuals, by encouraging them to pursue further education.
Always have a curious mind. Explore different topics and don’t be afraid to ask for clarity. Be inquisitive, and if your intent is sincere, there will be people who will help and support you in your journey. Experiment, try out new things. Keep the momentum going. Keep learning and keep reflecting.
“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and only cease at death”, Albert Einstein.