Life Is For Learning

Many people in the education sector believe we should learn new things on a continuous basis throughout our lives. But, in reality, is it simple?

Education wins

Education has always been a great leveller, enabler of dreams, and remedy to inequality and exclusion.

But in today’s world of digital technology education is even more important as it provides a passport to the good life in any sphere of endeavour.

Entrepreneurs and employees in all sectors of the economy need specific skills and a good education system can provide them.

Previous industrial revolutions faced similar dilemmas as technology upended jobs and workers retrained and reskilled to develop new careers.

In the past, such change has led to greater prosperity as man, woman and machine combined to produce more products in more efficient ways.

Today there is an even greater need for education to keep pace with technological change, not least to keep workers in jobs and equipped for the new workplace.

But the pattern of teaching students only at the start of their lives is changing, as there is a growing requirement for lifelong learning.

There is a sense of urgency about the issue as education provides a significant advantage to those in the system and intensifies inequality for those on the fringes.

Without making sure the attention of policymakers is focussed where it should be current levels of inequality will lead to a raft of unmanageable and unintended consequences.

The tradition of educating people for the first 20 years of their lives is no longer enough to ensure a successful career, given the increasing requirement to relearn and refresh.

The profile of jobs is changing, as most jobs now require more brain than brawn and an ability to be flexible and master new things on a continuous basis.

The value of a traditional school education or university degree is diminishing, as they become more expensive while offering less in return.

Businesses are also disinclined to support training, as the need to invest on a permanent base rarely justifies the costs involved.

But there is hope with the advent of online courses that offer continuous learning in practical subjects linked to skills of the future.

Making education more relevant to people’s work and long-term careers is vital in today’s market, particularly to make sure no one is left behind or excluded from the economy.

Government, of course, has an important role to play to ensure the correct policies are in place and that schools and universities offer relevant courses.

The greatest challenge, however, is the need to make sure adults are engaged in education and that continuous learning becomes embedded as a normal part of life.

So, the importance of education has never been greater but how we learn and when we learn must change to embrace our whole lives.