Adopt Independent Lifelong Learning to Meet Workplace Challenges – Tip #189

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I recently came across two interesting statistics on learning and development. The first one basically says organizations are placing less emphasis on on-the-job training and the other one states that individuals are focusing on independent and continuous learning. Here are the details.

The Stats

In a report by America’s Council of Economic Advisers, workers in the country are steadily receiving fewer paid-for or on-the-job training between 1996 and 2008. And, it’s the same situation across the pond: British workers also received less training around the same year range.

On the other hand, a Pew survey found that 54% of all working Americans believe they need to develop new skills throughout their lives. This number goes up to 61% among adults under 30 years old. It seems like the prospect of having a 40-year career is “no longer realistic” for them.

Learning – whether through online courses, webinars, or real-life situations – has become an “ongoing, lifelong pursuit.” The younger generation of workers, aka millennials, believe in this statement so much that they’re willing to spend their own hard-earned cash to pursue independent and continuous learning.

Today’s Challenges Require Lifelong Reskilling

Several challenges brought about this attitude toward independent and continuous learning. These cause workers to worry about their jobs and careers, both in the short-term and in the long-term.

1. Technology creates a lot of career anxiety. New tech are always being introduced, which either make tasks easier or remove the need for human workers altogether. According to a Pew study, 72% of Americans worry about losing their jobs because of technology.
2. “Hybrid jobs.” The skills that compose new jobs have seen a rapid evolution, requiring a new combination of skills, such as programming skills (coding) with marketing, design, or data analysis skills.
3. New job titles are emerging. Job titles are also undergoing rapid changes, especially reflecting the new skills necessary to thrive in today’s workplace. According to LinkedIn, the top 10 job titles today, including iOS developer, digital marketing specialist, and social media analyst, were nonexistent less than a decade ago. Who knows what job titles might arise in the future?
4. Skills obsolescence. The influx of new tech and new requirements of hybrid jobs has caused some skills to become obsolete. Work-related knowledge are now only expected to have a shelf life of less than 5 years. Plus, employers today expect workers to be fluent in digital tools and comfortable with virtual environments.
5. Dynamic and nonlinear careers. This short-term nature of skills today could mean that workers might have multiple careers in a lifetime. “Our parents had one job, I will have seven jobs, and our children will do seven jobs at one time,” says Robin Chase, former CEO and founder of ZipCar.

These new challenges must be met head on. Stay tuned for the next blog post for tips on how to pursue lifelong independent and continuous learning.

What other challenges do you think push learners toward lifelong reskilling? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.


The Economist. Lifelong learning is becoming an economic imperative. January 12, 2017
Pew Research Center. More worry than optimism about potential developments in automation. October 3, 2017
Burning Glass Technologies and General Assembly. Hybrid Jobs – Blurring Lines: How Business and Technology Skills Are Merging to Create High Opportunity Hybrid Jobs Sohan Murthy. Top 10 Job Titles That Didn’t Exist 5 Years Ago [INFOGRAPHIC]. January 6, 2014
John Hagel, John Seely Brown, Maggie Wooll, Roy Mathew, and Wendy Tsu. The lifetime learner A journey through the future of postsecondary education. Deloitte Insights, October 27, 2014

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
“Helping Learners Learn Their Way”