As learning business professionals, most of us are already aware of the importance of lifelong learning – in both our personal and professional lives. But it seems – until recently – that the rest of the world has been slow to acknowledge the significant impact that lifelong learning has, and will continue to have, on how we live and work.
A recent special report from The Economist highlighting lifelong learning as an “economic imperative” is yet another indication that this important topic is finally making it’s way into the mainstream and starting to get the attention it deserves.
In this episode of the Leading Learning podcast, Celisa and Jeff discuss their thoughts on findings from The Economist report including the impact that technology is having on the job market, the related social and philosophical implications, and the critical role that associations can, and should, play in all of this.
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Read the Show Notes
[00:20] – A preview of what will be covered in this podcast where Celisa and Jeff discuss the mainstreaming of lifelong learning and their thoughts on a recent special report in The Economist.
00:40 – Thank you to YourMembership, sponsor of the Leading Learning podcast for the first quarter of 2017. YourMembership’s learning management system (LMS) is specifically designed for professional education with a highly flexible and intuitive system that customizes the learning experience. YourMembership’s LMS seamlessly integrates with key systems to manage all of your educational content formats in one central location while providing powerful tools to create and deliver assessments, evaluations and learning communities. Support your learning strategy across all devices and platforms, delivered to a global audience, and empower your organization to be the key education voice for your industry with YourMembership.
1:24 – We encourage you to ask yourself, “Am I a serious learning business professional committed to investing in my own professional growth and improvement?” If the answer is yes, then there is no way you are going to want to miss out on Learning • Technology • Design™ (LTD), our upcoming virtual conference created specifically for professionals in the business of continuing education and professional development. The event will take place March 1-3, 2017. We really hope you and others at your organization will consider joining us.
02:02 –Highlighted Resource of the Week –Relates directly to this episode of the podcast – specifically, it is a free download of the first chapter of Leading the Learning Revolution, which discusses the major shifts that are driving a renaissance in lifelong learning.
03:07 – A discussion about the mainstreaming of lifelong learning. Recently The Economist published a special report on lifelong learning and declared it an “economic imperative”, a very important part of the economy and life in general. We dedicated an earlier podcast to the Pew Research Center report on lifelong learning and technology, another example of the mainstreaming of lifelong learning. All of this attention is good news for those of us in the business of lifelong learning, continuing education, and professional development – and we expect to see more of this in the future.
05:36 – Celisa and Jeff point out that The Economist report gave good weight to the complexity of the issue – it starts by laying out the landscape and explaining the impact that technology is having on how we live, work, and learn. Sometimes this gets simplified to be that technology is resulting in automation so we are losing jobs, however the issue goes much deeper than that. Overall, the nature of all jobs seems to be changing and it’s important to bend with the curve, not just stay ahead of the curve. The report showed that it’s still valuable to have a formal education/college degree, but wages have been flattening out for higher educated workers. And in many cases, higher educated workers are actually moving into roles, displacing less educated workers. Technology is making it necessary to have a combination of skills (the report uses the term “hybrid jobs”), making jobs become much more complex.
09:09 – A discussion about how the employer – employee relationship around learning is also becoming more complex. In general, you can’t necessarily count on an employer to continually give you all the skills/training necessary to keep you moving along in your job (especially if you work for a smaller employer), but that doesn’t mean they aren’t expecting it to happen. This means the burden then falls to the employee to take on the responsibility to learn what they need to know to grow and excel in their career. As a result, employers are trying to identify employees who are capable of doing this which could change the hiring process quite a bit. Employers will also be looking more at meta-skills to see if they can teach people how to be better learners – check out our related podcast, The Trend That Isn’t: Learner Responsibility.
12:39 – The social and philosophical implications of The Economist report are discussed and how learning isn’t just about earning. The social issue highlighted has to do with the fact that “the rich getting richer” – since the burden of learning is falling on the individual employee, it tends to be the employees are already well educated and earning at a high level who are able to make sure they are doing what they need to do to learn. For example, most of the people participating in massive open online courses (MOOC’s) are actually already highly educated. So essentially you have automatization/robotics pushing out lower skilled workers, middle-level workers going into less cognitively demanding jobs (a hollowing out of the middle that you hear about in the economy happening relative to knowledge/education/job roles), and then the growth of the 1% – the people who are the self-starters who are going to capitalize on what’s going on.
16:05 – Employers and government certainly play a role in addressing this challenge but there is an opportunity for trade and professional associations to help with this. In the report, there was only one mention of “trade unions”, not even “association” and as the report suggests, this needs to be a group effort and associations should be part of that. If you consider the social/philosophical implications discussed, the employer has the corporation’s best interests as heart (the connection between learning and earning/productivity). But learning is bigger than earning and that’s a role that associations can help support learners with – something associations are well positioned to do since the average worker will stay with them over a period of time. We’ve talked before about this third sector of education to address the needs of people in “the other 50 years” (which is as important, if not more important that K-12 and higher education) and this is the place that trade and professional associations can lead (see our related podcast episodes, The New Learning Landscape: Two Shifts and a Gap and The New Education Paradigm with Shelly Alcorn and Elizabeth Engel). Since associations are missing in action in this report (and others like it) there is a need for leadership to step up so that associations can have a very strong voice in this.
[21:17] – Wrap Up
Thanks again to YourMembership for being the sponsor for this quarter of the Leading Learning podcast.
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[23:14] – Sign off