Continuous Learning & Development; more than just continuous training

Lifelong learning is more important than ever, as Anne Lise Kjaer, a futurist, sums up very well.

“The world is changing; complexity in society and business growth is changing the future of jobs and skills. Evolving technologies, notably robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are driving automation of ever more traditional jobs and rewriting the rules of education and skills. To this end, individuals as well as organisations will need to adopt a growth mindset and nurture the creativity, agility and lifelong learning skills that will make us, not just resilient, but thriving as the world changes.”

Although it is ultimately up to every individual to stay relevant by becoming a lifelong learner, many agencies and organizations now have a big part to play in supporting lifelong learning.  Schools and universities can prepare students with the mindset and skills they will need for a life of continuous learning; and there are plenty of opportunities for both academic, professional as well as non-mainstream organisations to offer continuous education to individuals as they wend their way through their work life.  In fact, Mary Meeker has shown in her Internet Trends 2018 report that education content is ramping up fast to support lifelong learning.

But, in fact, lifelong learning doesn’t just mean taking a course from time to time throughout one’s career – aka continuous education.  As the Top Tools for Learning survey shows, modern professionals use a wide range of formal and informal tools, resources and networks to remain relevant by continuously keeping up to date with their industry and/or profession, to self-improve and to self-develop. In other words, lifelong learning is a constant – often daily – process. It doesn’t just involve studying but immersing oneself in a variety of online and offline experiences.

It is clear that companies now need to provide continuous learning opportunities, and ensure that they’re promoting lifelong learning within their organization.  So what does this actually mean? First of all it is important to reiterate that continuous learning in the workplace is, again, more than just delivering continuous training. It is also not just a matter of implementing a course library (like Lynda or Coursera) for employees to make use of – and thinking by doing that, that the “continuous learning” box can be ticked. Rather it means creating a Framework of Continuous Improvement, Learning & Development that embraces both formal and informal environments as well as independent learning in all its forms. What might that look like?

In the diagram below I show examples of how modern professionals learn in a wide range of ways – both inside and outside their organisation – and how for L&D this means both supporting continuous personal and professional learning as well as being responsible for continuous workplace learning so that individuals are exposed to a constant flow of learning activities and opportunities – in other words learning something new every day.  This essentially involves THREE key pillars of activity:

  1. Empowering Independent Professional Continuous Learning – Encouraging and supporting individuals to become independent modern professional learners who organize and manage their own continuous self-improvement and self-development
  2. Creating, Curating and Coordinating a Continuous Flow of Learning Activities and Opportunities – Using modern formats and delivery methods to help individuals build a habit of daily learning for continuous improvement development
  3. Supporting Continuous Improvement through Daily Work – Helping managers grow their teams, helping individuals get the most out of their daily work, and helping establish a knowledge sharing culture
Click the link to view the diagram as a PDF

At the Centre for Modern Workplace Learning we are helping organizations and L&D professionals to future-proof their workplace through a variety of workshops and activities.

Our next 4-week online workshop, Continuous Learning & Development, starting 11 May takes a look at some of the areas above in more detail, as the agenda below shows:

  • Week 1: Building a continuous learning mindset in the organisation; what it means for L&D, managers and individuals
  • Week 2: Helping individuals to become independent professional continuous learners
  • Weeks 3 & 4: Creating, curating and coordinating a continuous flow of learning activities and opportunities

You can sign up for the Continuous Learning & Development Workshop here

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Jane Hart

Jane Hart helps organisations and learning professionals modernise their approaches to workplace learning - through public workshops and bespoke consultancy. She is the Editor of the Modern Workplace Learning Magazine, and is the author of a number of books including Modern Workplace Learning 2018 as well as the resource for individuals How to become a Modern Professional Learner. Jane was the 2018 recipient of the ATD Distinguished Contribution to Talent Development award. You can contact Jane at Jane.Hart@C4LPT.co.uk.