Encouraging a culture of lifelong learning is essential to prepare individuals for rapid upskilling and reskilling requirements in the future of work. A culture of lifelong learning can create a groundwork for agility in a world where skill requirements evolve quickly. Lifelong learning is a tool for long-term career mobility and satisfaction, especially as the average retirement age trends older.
The global workplace is changing rapidly in response to major global trends which are impacting talent, teams, and technology. While there are few guarantees about exactly how the future of work will unfold, it’s likely that lifelong learning will become an increasingly important tool for competitive advantage. Employees recognize that continuous learning will probably be key to building a successful career and surviving industry disruption. 74% of workers are ready to learn new skills or re-skill to remain employable, according to PwC.
Continuous learning will be a necessary tool to address skill shortages in the future workplace. However, learning could also become an important tool for employee engagement and talent retention. 96% of employees would stay with a company longer if an employer invested in learning and development, per LinkedIn. A culture of constant learning is key to succeed against disruptive trends such as changing demographics, new teams, and AI innovation.
1. Changing Workplace Demographics
Today’s workplace includes more age diversity than ever before. Members of Generation Z born after 1995 are beginning to join millennials, Gen X, Baby Boomers, and the Silent Generation in the first-ever five-generation workplace.
The average global worker is older than ever, according to Deloitte’s Dr. Patricia Buckley and Dr. Daniel Bachman. The average age of workers in the future will be older due to low birth rates and late retirement ages. Demographic shifts are also contributing to a future talent pool that’s more diverse than ever before, including more diversity of gender, ethnicity, culture, religion, and other factors.
An ageing workforce will only increase the value of lifelong learning. Workers may expect to reskill significantly several times during a five-decade career. In addition, future learning programs will need to address an increasingly diverse learner population. New technologies and tactics will be necessary to drive positive outcomes for a diverse pool of learners with varying backgrounds, learning styles, and goals.
Finally, it will be important to create learning experiences that are engaging and relevant to members of each age demographic. The youngest members of today’s workforce are prepared to learn, but they have unique expectations for content and delivery. According to Training Industry, members of Gen Z expect to learn with a clean, mobile-optimized interface and prefer short-form videos and content to longer training.
2. Changing Team Structures
Team structures and talent pools are shifting in response to global skills shortages, low unemployment, and the growing freelance economy. Employers are more reliant than ever a blended approach to talent which creates teams from a mixture of global employees and freelancers. Simultaneously, organizational structures have changed. 31% of organizations surveyed by Deloitte say they operate entirely or almost solely based around teams instead of traditional hierarchies.
The future workplace will likely continue to shift towards more talent mobility and team-based organization structures, but the precise pathway is less clear. The recent AB5 bill in California has required organizations to reclassify contractors as employees. Similar legislative trends in other global jurisdictions could require employers to insource talent.
Flexible, self-managing global teams will be formed around project requirements from a global pool of talent in the future. The most agile organizations will use lifelong learning as a tool to constantly reskill employees to meet emerging requirements. Employers should consider ways to motivate employees to upgrade skills continuously and reward learners.
3. AI Disruption
Artificial intelligence and machine learning applications have already had a profound impact on technology for businesses and consumers. This disruptive technology trend will continue to influence the future of work. AI is unlikely to replace human workers, but instead, change the role of humans in the workplace. A PWC study predicts only 3% of jobs will be replaced by AI in the near future.
The future of work will include enormous demand for skilled AI professionals, and learning requirements among professionals in many positions whose job has changed significantly due to AI. AI won’t just change what learners need to know, it will also probably change how learning is delivered.
AI excels at providing personalized user experiences at scale — analyzing real-time streams of data on behaviour and preference to predict preferences. Future learning technologies will use AI to provide more deeply personalized learning journeys and one-to-one learning experiences. AI will be an important tool to deliver the right experience to the right learner at the right time.
Continuous Learning Drives Future Talent Flexibility
The success of lifelong learning in the future workplace will be measured by learner outcomes. Talent flexibility will be increasingly valuable, and learning will need to drive talent mobility and positive learner outcomes across a diverse workplace population.
Competence-based learning stands as the necessary tool for lifelong learners, in order to acquire in short periods of times the knowledge they need. In this respect, education offered via platforms will be a cornerstone. OPX like Capabilia will play a lead role in the market as they encourage organizations to take a step further in what education concerns, allowing market leaders to flourish within their niche along with new ways of developing new and necessary skill sets.