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How lifelong learning will become the norm

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By Roger James Hamilton, Founder and CEO of Genius Group

 

The age-old process of training and staying on one career path is not so popular these days. With technology blurring the lines between sectors and speeding up processes, working adults are more likely to jump from sector to sector, picking up new skills and acquiring new knowledge. 

Add to this trend the rise of artificial intelligence and automated technology, traditional, manual or customer service-based roles will diminish and there will be less need for a large workforce when computers and machines can do the role equally well. This gap in the job market will only add to the effects of the recession and unemployment as countries struggle to create a stable infrastructure after the pandemic. 

We are now moving beyond the information society age into the impact or imagination society where there is a digital layer across almost every aspect of our lives. Big data collected by the internet of things (IoT) will be converted into a new type of intelligence by artificial intelligence (AI) and this will reach every corner of society. We cannot ignore this technological shift, and our education system must recognise and reflect these changes in society’s structure.  

As automation advances and many of routine and manual tasks diminish, over the next 5 -10 years it is likely that everyone will need to spend more time learning on the job and many job roles will be focused on solving problems. Teaching skills in self-management will take on new importance for a resilient workforce with an entrepreneurial mindset. A first step in preparing young people for this future and to equip them for this new work order is to train them with their idea of lifelong learning while they are still in the education system. As technology advances, it makes sense that students and workers alike will need to keep up with this evolution and as this trend is expedited so will the need for retraining. 

The 2020 World Economic Forum ‘Schools of the Future’ report highlights the urgent need for a more relevant curriculum to prepare students and adults for the future. The COVID-19 crisis has amplified the necessity to overhaul the system.

In direct response to challenges in the current education system, a lifelong curriculum providing a full, government-accredited entrepreneurial alternative will be the cornerstone to new and future learning. From early-learning education to primary and secondary school and on to colleges a personalised and current learning path that is unique to each student’s needs will be a huge advantage to businesses and economies alike. Such a curriculum is a force for good. As Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

According to the World Economic Forum, there are eight critical characteristics in content and experiences that will define high-quality learning during this Fourth Industrial Revolution, ‘Education 4.0’. These eight critical characteristics include:

Global citizenship skills

Include content that focuses on building awareness about the wider world, sustainability, and playing an active role in the global community.

Innovation and creativity skills

Include content that fosters skills required for innovation, including complex problem-solving, analytical thinking, creativity, and systems analysis.

Technology skills

Include content that is based on developing digital skills, including programming, digital responsibility, and the use of technology.

Interpersonal skills

Include content that focuses on interpersonal emotional intelligence, including empathy, cooperation, negotiation, leadership, and social awareness.

Personalized and self-paced learning

Move from a system where learning is standardized to one based on the diverse individual needs of each learner and is flexible enough to enable each learner to progress at their own pace.

Accessible and inclusive learning

Move from a system where learning is confined to those with access to school buildings to one in which everyone has access to learning and is, therefore, inclusive.

Problem-based and collaborative learning

Move from process-based to project and problem-based content delivery, requiring peer collaboration, and more closely mirroring the future of work.

Lifelong and student – driven learning:

Move from a system where learning and skilling decrease over one’s lifespan to one where everyone continually improves on existing skills and acquires new ones based on their individual needs.

The current global education system is seeing a shift and it is those who incorporate these eight pillars will actually begin to prepare students to be life-long learners. Learning should be personalised, relevant and authentic so students not only learn new skills but can transfer them to different learning and working scenarios. By identifying key talents, passions, and purpose, students are best positioned to succeed. A personalised, passion-focused, purpose-based, flexible system centres students in a learning environment that is both high-tech and high-touch. As these students then enter the world of work, we will then see them be able to become more adaptive and open to using their skills to their advantage as they face and overcome challenges. They will also be more able to seek new skills and identify where their skill set is lacking. 

Adult learning or corporate training including online courses, webinars and masterclasses have seen an increase in popularity. This has been heightened by the pandemic with redundancies and job losses on the rise, many have seen the value in diversifying their skill set or have decided to take the leap to start their own business. 

Life-long learners will not only benefit the individual but will also improve recruitment prospects for companies struggling to find employees with adequate leadership and technical skills. Business can also temp new employees with company-sponsored programmes creating a global stream of employable students and leaders updated to the needs of the times.

In these difficult times having a wide-ranging skill set is of heightened importance and employees and entrepreneurs who can turn their hand to many different sectors will become invaluable. The edtech boom has begun and is enabling everybody to learn more skills, whatever stage of their career or life. 

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