Lifelong learning is a relatively new concept in the world of education, but in a knowledge-powered economy it is now one of the most important ideas around. Degree-level education used to be the preserve of school leavers, but these days a return to education could hold significant benefits for a large proportion of the population.
Why? Because the way we live and work is changing so fast.
Technological advances mean industries which were barely imaginable just a few decades ago now dominate the international economy. But in order for these high-tech businesses to succeed, they need access to people with the right skills.
Inevitably, younger people are going some way to meet the needs of such companies, but with the Western world facing up to an aging population, a failure to invest in older people is likely to prove disastrous. This is why universities and employers need to ensure the skills required to contribute to a modern workforce are made available to all sections of the population.
Companies who invest in the skills of their existing workforce will find they are less likely to face resource shortages in key areas, giving themselves a huge advantage over their less forward thinking rivals. Educational institutions on the other hand will be able to benefit from increased links with industry, allowing them to tailor their courses to meet the needs of employers.
Ultimately, this will allow universities to improve the employability of graduates of all ages, making them more attractive to prospective students in the future. Employees will also benefit, as their newfound skills are likely to give them access to higher paying jobs, as well as expanding their horizons more generally.
However, as well as bringing businesses and employees up to speed on current developments in the world of business, universities will need to make sure they are offering prospective students the chance to develop skills which will benefit them for years to come.
Today’s high-tech economy has put an unprecedented demand on the planet’s resources and with countries such as Brazil, Russia, India and China trying to compete with the West, mitigating the environmental impact of business is now vital.
Companies which drive sustainability will be as important as those that drive innovation, and by focusing on developing a workforce which has skills in this area, businesses can carve out a competitive advantage over their rivals.
But in order to succeed, employees will need access to the kind of cutting-edge thinking which can only be found at respected educational intuitions.
By forging partnerships with universities and ensuring people have access to lifelong learning, no matter their previous academic experience, companies will give themselves the best chance of forging ahead during uncertain times.
People are the most important resource a company has and workers who have the skills required to drive innovation in a high-tech but sustainable future are set to be among the most sort after employees around.
By ensuring they invest in lifelong learning now, businesses will avoid having to spend time and money scrabbling around to fill skill gaps in key areas in the future.
For more information on lifelong learning, check out OCVC’s YouTube channel.