Lifelong learning is the concept of continuous and self-motivated lifetime learning, whether in a personal or professional context. In this article, we will talk about the reasons for the popularity of this approach and tell you how to apply it to yourself and your company.
The concept of lifelong learning appeared in the last century, but for many years its principles remained inaccessible for application in practice. Employees simply did not have enough time and finances, and geographical limitations prevented them from doing so.
The entry of education online and COVID19 has radically changed the situation. Now it is enough to have a smartphone to get knowledge, and it is easier to fit a webinar into the workday than live training. At the same time, distance courses are more budget-friendly than their offline counterparts, allowing people to increase their skills regularly.
The second reason for mainstreaming lifelong learning is the rapid obsolescence of knowledge. Many companies have had to change work processes and adapt employees to them in order to maintain their position in the market. As a result, the continuity of learning has gained importance because it's necessary to update the knowledge of the team and yours in today's environment on a regular basis.
This is why the concept became a global trend in the corporate education market. By 2022, major companies such as Apple, IBM, Microsoft, Dropbox, Google, Philips, Asana, Facebook, Mastercard, and dozens of other companies have implemented continuous learning.
What lifelong learning gives
In addition to its direct purpose, continuous training solves several other problems:
- Reduces employee turnover. The possibility of career growth motivates people to stay with the company, increasing loyalty and performance.
- Saves resources. Investments in staff development are cheaper than frequent search and adaptation of newcomers.
- Introduces new technologies to the business. Trained professionals are aware of the latest developments and methods, so they perform tasks faster, become more proactive and effective.
- Ensures the psychological well-being of employees. Researchers say that acquiring new knowledge makes people happier and healthier, and the level of job satisfaction increases along with a qualification.
Lifelong learning disadvantages
There are three possible problems of lifelong learning:
- Difficulty in controlling the educational process. It's not clear whether the employee is going through the material faithfully.
- Low student engagement. It's not easy for the trainer to keep the listener's attention online.
- Employees' perception of lifelong learning as a burdensome responsibility. Quality professional development requires responsibility and time, which busy and unmotivated people don't have.
Modern principles of lifelong learning
The connection between Knowledge and Work
It's important to focus knowledge on your or specific company goals that are important right now. For example, before launching a new product, it makes sense to train the sales department to work with it. To tell them about the qualities, pros, and cons, as well show them how to work out customer objections.
People find it easier to learn if the material is divided into small micro-lessons of 5-10 minutes each. The material in this format can be passed during working hours and is easier to absorb and apply immediately in practice. The most common types of microlearning are videos, podcasts, short articles, and reference books.
Most convenient is a library of short training modules with information for beginners and already experienced colleagues. In this way, each employee can get the knowledge he or she needs for the job at any time on his or her own, without involving other colleagues.
The methodology involves live meetings with a trainer and hands-on practice of skills in a group. Discussion of the topic or the results of the lesson will help to better understand the level of students, and team activity will unite employees and consolidate knowledge.
Lifelong learning includes an overall plan of personnel development and individual trajectories for each employee. Surveys and proficiency tests help to find out what skills people are lacking.
As you see, lifelong learning is a must-have nowadays and its implementation will offer you a variety of benefits for yourself and your business.