Education Landscape: The Role of Companies in Higher Education and Lifelong Learning

Photo by Gery Wibowo on Unsplash

People often expect immediate job acceptance from graduates of prestigious universities. Along with this, employers have also grown into the belief that they would become an integral part of their successful workforce. However, a shift in the future of education is becoming more evident as world-renowned companies, such as Amazon, Google, IBM, and Barça are gearing towards implementing credential programs and post-secondary training sessions that aim to help their employees reach their maximum potential as professionals.

In the International Study in Competency Education (2014), results have shown that countries who prioritize education focus on personalized learning over traditional classroom instruction models. The competency-based model encourages students to become empowered in terms of creating important decisions which affect their learning experiences. According to the Aurora Institute, students should be able to create and apply essential knowledge and demonstrate their learning through meaningful and positive assessment. However, despite the attempts of nations across the globe to create a curriculum that caters to lifelong learning, few countries outside the United States recognize the term competency-based.

How Universities are Checking-off Competencies, but Missing Lifelong Learning Competence

Only a handful of countries are renowned for their success in implementing the competency-based education model. Based on their PISA results, countries like Finland, Sweden, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore and Shanghai, Scotland, England, and Japan have shown that learning outcomes emphasize competencies that include two things: application and creation of knowledge; and development of important abilities and dispositions that have practical implications for professional advancement.

While competency-based education aims to develop students’ mastery of subjects and skills, the traditional approach to teaching and learning will soon become outdated especially in terms of developing professional skills needed for employment. Schools often implement the “once and done” approach to achieve a specific competency. A student takes a course or a program that meets a required competency (e.g. quantitative data analysis), submits the necessary paperwork, and takes an assessment. Afterwards, the student is then considered to have achieved the competency. Unfortunately, this approach does not necessarily translate to real-life applications. Even if they are checking off competencies, they could still be missing the skills they need for employment.

Investing in Lifelong Learning Leads to Corporate Success and Development

Employers are now focusing on learning outcomes which could be demonstrated as an applied skill or ability. In a rapidly evolving workplace, the role of lifelong learning is becoming more evident and important for both employees and companies. As companies cater to new marketplaces and audiences, it pays to have employees that have up-to-date skills and abilities that could meet the high demands of a 21st-century work environment. Lifelong learning plays an important role in ensuring how employees continuously develop their expertise and necessary skills.

Investing in the post-secondary training sessions of employees benefits both the employee and the company. Employer-provided training programs create opportunities for learning skills and knowledge which can directly lead to an increase in productivity. This shift in the role of companies in achieving lifelong learning competence has encouraged employers to invest in the long-term professional development of their employees.

In 2016, the Alibaba Group launched the Alibaba Global Leadership Academy, a program that aims to immerse young professionals in a one-year in leadership training, on-the-job experience, and cultural engagement. Samsung is also known for its programs who support its employees’ professional growth. One of their programs caters to the health and wellness of their employees. Their Life Coaching Centers have in-house counselors and psychiatrists who assist their employees in managing work-life balance issues and domestic concerns.

Achieving lifelong learning may not be the easiest path to take. However, if companies and schools create a partnership where only the most essential of competencies are included in a student-centered and personalized curriculum, then maybe, our aspirations of producing globally competitive, highly productive, and proactive leaders may still be possible in the future.

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