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Why lifelong learning is essential for the economy – and for you

Lifelong learning benefits employees, companies and governments, argues the World Economic Forum. Voluntarily pursuing new knowledge and skills throughout your life can not only bring about good health, wealth, quality of life and future prospects for yourself and your family, but it can have hugely positive knock-on effects for companies who invest in the lifelong learning of their employees.

This article explores some of these effects in detail and suggests how you can kick start your own lifelong learning, or that of your employees.

Lifelong learning makes workers better at their jobs

Lifelong learning drives the economy by ensuring that workers are:

  • More skilled
  • More productive
  • Happier

Both the Mental Health Foundation and the NHS recommend lifelong learning to improve mental wellbeing, life satisfaction and ability to cope with stress.

This consequentially promotes longer working lives and decreases our dependence on the Government when we retire. “Supporting learning in later life helps to delay the onset of dependency among rapidly ageing populations,” says Professor of Education, Alan Tuckett in his article.

Technological advances drive the need for continuous education

Workers need to keep up with increasing shifts in the workplace, as industries and workplaces advance at an amazing pace. According to Forbes.com, “average human knowledge is doubling every 13 months, and IBM predicts that in the next couple of years, the volume of information will double every 11 hours.”

What does this mean in practical terms? As jobs involving routine tasks that can be easily automated by technology are on the decline, this is increasing the need for workers to up-skill to perform jobs that require greater expertise. At the same time, jobs that need more cognitive skill and creativity are growing in number – this is great news for the lifelong learners amongst us.

Technology is driving the need for lifelong learning. “In many occupations it has become essential to acquire new skills as established ones become obsolete,” argues a special report by The Economist. “A degree at the start of a working career does not answer the need for the continuous acquisition of new skills… Vocational training is good at giving people job-specific skills, but those, too, will need to be updated over and over again during a career lasting decades.”

If you want to be a lifelong employee, you need to be a lifelong learner. “Alongside personalised learning, personalised career pathing will fast become the new normal.”

The earlier you start, the better

Research has shown that those who adopt a habit of voluntary, self-motivated skill-building early on in their education or careers are more likely to invest in themselves throughout their lives.

How you can boost your lifelong learning at Barnsley College

Discover how Barnsley College can increase lifelong learning in your workplace with our short courses. You might want to look at our Part-time Course page too!