Professionals must continue their education and embrace lifelong learning to stay ahead of the competition in today’s rapidly-changing labor market. Those who keep up with their knowledge are better able to adjust to unexpected job changes or changes in their career trajectory.
Professional continuing education refers to learning that is relevant to professions professionals are already employed in or are looking to enter. It may include formal workshops, clinical and research conferences, study groups, self-paced or live webinars as well as professional development activities like gaining certifications or licenses in rapidly changing fields.
Professional and corporate leaders must stay abreast of the most recent advancements in their industry, to be more efficient, productive and effective at their jobs. This is one reason why many employers provide tuition reimbursement for employees to enroll in post-secondary education programs when those courses are directly related to their current or future work.
Furthermore, some licensing boards require professionals to retake training to keep their credentials up-to-date. This can range from renewing a license to taking specific coursework and training in new areas of expertise.
A major concern is that the terms “lifelong learning” and “lifelong education” are sometimes mistakenly mixed up in educational and workplace contexts, with lifelong learning refering to intentional learning experiences of adults within educational institutions or workplaces, while lifelong learning more broadly refers to all contributions and experiences that occur throughout working lives.
Distinguishing between lifelong learning and lifelong education is essential in order to distinguish which aspects of individuals’ liveslong learning are supported or contributed by lifelong education, and which do not. Learning occurs through individual interpretation and construction of what one experiences; this requires physical facilities (i.e., cognitive neural sensory systems), intentions, resources as well as the interest and perspectives of those responsible for creating, designing, delivering, or guiding that learning process.
Additionally, taking into account the variety of contributions and experiences that arise in and around working life is critical for understanding how individuals can reach their full capacities and potential. This is because those capabilities are determined by how one perceives and interprets what they experience, as well as how they construct that understanding.
These factors can be tailored and aligned in ways that promote lifelong learning for individuals. A deeper comprehension of these influences is necessary not only to enable governments and workplaces to support this endeavor, but also so we can better comprehend how employability-related capacities can best be acquired within the workplace context.