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Myth: You stop learning once you leave school and start working. Fact: Spending time each day on learning and development is key to building a successful career/organisation.

Organisations exist in a dynamic environment where they need to adapt to ever-changing markets. That’s why lifelong learning, learning and developing new skills throughout your life, makes sense in business and in life in general.

Lifelong learning is a part of the “growth mindset” through which organisations are committed to developing and fostering new skills. It is not restricted to employees and new technologies; it also applies to the entrepreneur and business owners.

Investing in personal interests, even if they are not directly related to your career, can lead to fulfilling experiences and the development of soft skills. These benefit both your personal and professional life.

Lifelong learning can benefit businesses, too. It is a well-known fact that making new hires is costly: between the hiring fees, the potential counter-offers and sign-on bonuses, the training costs, pension, and benefits, the costs add up quickly.

Companies are starting to see that retention and upskilling are the way to go to future-proof their business. Since 2019, global corporations such as Amazon, PwC, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America have announced they are investing millions (if not billions) into training programmes for their workforce.

What Are Examples of Lifelong Learning?

There are at least two ways to engage in lifelong learning. One is to work on your existing skills and increase expertise in areas you already work in; this is called upskilling. You could, for example, get a certificate to show your competence in a certain area, or pursue an advanced qualification.

Another way to keep learning is to reskill entirely, which means entering a whole new sector or area you are not familiar with. This kind of learning could focus on getting to grips with new technology, communication, or leadership and management.

Academies such as FreeCodeCamp or Udemy provide free online programmes precisely for that purpose. On these platforms, you can pick up skills like coding, programming, learn about Art History, economics, or brush up on subjects you already know.

Companies can also provide free training and upskilling opportunities for their employees by hiring external coaches and consultants, or relying on their senior staff’s expertise. Whether that be lunch lectures, seminars, retreats or training days, there’s a lot organisations can do to keep their staff engaged and interested.

Some organisations will allocate a learning and development budget for each of their employees to use as they see fit. This money could go towards learnings resources such as books, or external courses. As well as a budget, companies need to give their staff the opportunity to take time off to complete such training.

Why Is Learning Important for an Organisation?

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2020 estimated that by 2025, 85 million jobs would likely be made redundant due to technological advances, while 97 million “jobs of tomorrow” would emerge.

The Covid-19 pandemic has only accelerated the global digital shift that was already taking place. This challenging period has also fostered great advances in medical and life sciences; a prime example of this is the incredible speed at which the Covid-19 vaccine was developed and approved. Changes that were already happening across industries are happening faster, and companies need to make sure they are able to keep up. One way to ensure this is upskilling staff.

Apart from keeping up with (and even driving) innovation, there are other reasons why lifelong learning can be beneficial for a business:

  • Employee loyalty. Employees who are provided with training opportunities and led onto a successful path are more likely to be loyal towards companies. Learning new skills helps to stay motivated and provides milestones to reach so employees can better progress towards their personal and professional goals.
  • Competitive advantage. When you teach employees to adapt to new situation, they become better equipped to take on future challenges. An agile, constantly learning workforce makes the difference between a business that’s struggling to keep up, and one that is way ahead.
  • Change management. Over a company’s lifetime, changes are bound to happen; staff can have a hard time implementing the changes, which causes disruption. Training for change helps your workforce to adapt to new working methods and conditions.
  • Teaching business-relevant knowledge. While school and university undoubtedly teach students a great deal, that content is rarely directly applicable to jobs. People who can say they work in a field directly related to what they studied are few and far between. As such, companies often invest in training courses and seminars that will teach their staff knowledge they need for work: SEO, communication, leadership, management, and so on.

How to Foster a Lifelong Learning Routine?

The world’s most known entrepreneurs such as Bill Gates rely on lifelong learning for their successful careers. Warren Buffett spends an hour every day on what he calls “conscious learning”.

A recent ManpowerGroup report showed that 93% of millennials are willing to actively invest their time in training to become “future-ready”.

There is clearly a will to learn. So how can companies foster learning in their organisation?

  • Changing mindsets. People with a growth mindset are willing to learn new things and improve their abilities, while those with a fixed mindset struggle to leave their comfort zone. Luckily, embracing a growth mindset is a teachable habit.
  • Creating goals. Development goals are crucial to build motivation. Giving opportunities for employees to reflect on their progress on a regular basis and creating forums for staff to learn from each other are other ways to create a learning culture.
  • Providing opportunities. Fostering learning is as easy as giving staff the resources, time and support to learn. This can mean providing formal training programmes, a development budget and time off, and taking feedback from employees.
  • Providing incentives. Providing monetary and non-monetary can be a good motivation to pursue personal development goals. Monetary incentives include cash-based perks such as bonuses, gifts, etc. Non-monetary incentives could be giving staff a day off, or arranging a group trip for example.

Learning with Online Programmes

With the rise of technology, lifelong learning is easier than ever before. Books are replaced by online materials such as e-books, videos, and podcasts. Online resources are participating in the democratisation of learning; they are available to anyone with a smartphone or computer, often on-demand and for free.

Online academies have emerged that provide courses to develop personal and professional skills; Udemy and EWOR are just two of them. These platforms generally focus on subjects not traditionally taught in ‘traditional’ institutions; entrepreneurship, for example.

Conclusion

Lifelong learning is beneficial for both companies and their employees. Technological advances, global crises, and organisational change can all be tackled better with an agile workforce. The creation of new roles and the drive to innovate mean organisations are keen to upskill their workforce to future-proof their business.

EWOR wants to be part of your lifelong learning. Our articles are written to provide free and valuable content for employers and employees alike. If you are interested in online leaning, especially surrounding entrepreneurship, check out the EWOR Academy. This selective course gives you access guidance to plenty more material and guidance from reputed entrepreneurs and founders.

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EWOR is a school conceived by Europe’s top professors, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders. We educate and mentor young innovators to launch successful businesses.

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Our Programs

Fellowship

An exclusive 10-month, fully-sponsored, program designed for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to make the world a better place.

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Academy

An exclusive 10-month, fully-sponsored, program designed for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to make the world a better place.

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Learn how to conceive, prototype, test, and launch an impactful venture with over 17 courses to help you start off.

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