3 questions about lifelong learning, answers

If you’ve been working for a few decades (or more), you might find yourself facing a career lull and thinking: Argh! I’ve been doing the same thing for so long! I want something new!

This feeling of frustration may be a sign that it is time to restart education.

Lifelong learning – a term that covers a range of actions – is not reserved for those with years of experience and the fatigue of repetition. Restocking your mental toolbox can advance your career and improve your life at any age, whether you’re a fresh graduate interested in a different area of ​​your major, a mid-career professional, or a grandparent watching his first grandchild heading to college.

Although ‘lifelong learning’ may seem too lofty and potentially exhausting, it describes a general mindset around growth. As cognitive psychologist Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, said, “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work – brains and talent are just the starting point. This vision creates a love of learning and resilience that are essential for great success. »

How do you get that love of learning and resilience? Here are three questions about lifelong learning, answered.

Question 1: “The university seemed like a big school to me. Why bother with more education?

Answer: The world of work is changing, whether you like it or not.

Recycling helps you stay relevant. Many of today’s best jobs did not exist 10 or 20 years ago. Opportunity comes to those who want to learn something new. Other jobs, meanwhile, are disappearing, which means that for some, retraining is necessary to stay in employment.

Continuous learning also sparks new ideas more generally and helps maintain interest in life. Learning new things is fun. It creates energy. All of these uplifting emotions help build and maintain the stamina needed for a long career.

Finally, learning can improve your mental fitness. Studies show that lifelong learning is correlated with slower age-related mental decline. As a study published in JAMA Neurology says, “Lifetime intellectual enrichment could delay the onset of cognitive impairment and be used as a successful preventative intervention to reduce the impending dementia epidemic.”

Question 2: Who should pursue lifelong learning?

Answer: At least one billion people in the next 10 years.

As technology continues to change the nature of work, one billion people will need to retrain by 2030 to fill job vacancies, according to World Economic Forum Chief Executive Saddia Zahidi. If they don’t, our global economy will face a “reconversion emergency”. By engaging in lifelong learning, you can be part of the solution.

While technology is responsible for many of the changes in the current and future workplace, it’s not just technicians who benefit from retraining. As WEF’s Zahidi said, “There is a common misconception that we will all need to develop highly technological or scientific skills to be successful. Yet while it will be necessary for people to work with technology, we are also seeing a growing need for people to develop specialist skills in how they interact with each other. These include creativity, collaboration and interpersonal dynamics, as well as skills related to specialist sales, human resources, care and education roles.

As for that nauseating feeling that it’s too late to change jobs? The average age of career changers is 39, according to an Indeed.com survey of 662 full-time employees. And that age is likely to increase, given the tendency of younger employees to change jobs frequently. In the United States, people aged 18 to 24 change careers about 5.7 times, compared to those aged 45 to 52, who only change jobs about 1.9 times. Given today’s growing longevity (“60 is the new 40”) and the corresponding extra two to three decades of work, many people are looking to pivot in the second half of life to find new meaning. and a new goal. The Encore Career movement is dedicated to supporting this effort, as well as fostering productive intergenerational relationships.

Question 3: Alright, I’m sold. How can I start developing more brain power?

Answer: Choose the route that suits you.

Lifelong learning can mean enrolling in a two-week online course, getting a certificate or specialized training in your current field, retraining at your current workplace, or even going back to college. to get a new degree.

The need for retraining has led to an increase in the number of options available today. The private for-profit educational arm of the Addeco Group, General Assembly, provides technology training in cities around the world, as part of its effort to help five million workers through the upgrading and retraining in the world by 2030. LinkedIn, Cousera, Manpower, FutureLearn and others are rolling out educational content in a variety of fields.

Online learning brings the expertise of global experts to your desktop, and the pandemic has increased the options, ease and influence of online education. London-based Futurelearn.com, for example, offers everything from short courses taught by professors from universities around the world to college degrees.

Of course, some jobs require a specific degree, exams, and license, such as psychotherapy or nursing. If you’re worried you’ve been out of school too long to grab a laptop and come back, take note: The average age of graduate students graduating in the United States is 33, according to research from the Council of Graduates. Schools. Lots of people go back to it even later. This same research shows that almost a quarter of graduating students today are over 40, with almost 10% over 50.

You might also be able to pick up some new skills on the job, as John Wang (pseudonym), a marketing intern turned systems engineer, discovered. During his internship at a cloud security company, John realized that his real ambition was not to work in marketing but rather to be a solutions engineer. By learning about it at work, he was able to get an informal learning plan from the company’s solution engineering manager. Using this guide, over the next six months, he learned the required skills on his own. Ultimately, he passed the required test to demonstrate his competency and landed an entry-level position in Solutions Engineering.

As John’s story shows, lifelong learning can happen at any time. It’s never too late, or too early, to rethink your career and retrain accordingly.

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