Learning and Lifelong Learning – Exploring 2 Key Future of Work Trends

In this blog I introduce and explore four concepts and practices, which are part of the global trends we are currently experiencing, and identified as important for the Future of Work. These are learning, active learning, experiential learning and lifelong learning.

Why focus on Learning and Lifelong Learning Trend?

In several trends reports on the future of work, learning and lifelong learning are identified both as skills for the future and strategies used by individuals and organisations to manage future shifts induced by automation. Refer to my workplace trends analysis blog on Soft Skills. https://ennielifecoach.com/2019/04/23/soft-skills-a-workplace-trend-to-embrace-and-be-fit-for-the-future-of-work/ I share two reports that are useful here.


The World Economic Forum Future Jobs Report, 2018, lists active learning as the number 2 critical skills for 2022:



The McKinsey Global Institute – Skill Shift – Automation and the Future of the Workforce Report, 2018, lists continuous learning as a critical soft skill and lifelong learning as a key organisational shift to manage automation and changing employee skill needs: https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-work/skill-shift-automation-and-the-future-of-the-workforce?reload2


The Deloitte 2019 Global Human Capital Trends Report explores the future of learning and development at an individual and company level. They 86% of survey respondents cite learning as the top-rated human capital challenge. They further noted that the most significant workforce and talent issue for C-suite executives that our respondents identified this year was “transitioning to the future of work” (28 percent), followed by the need to redesign work (25 percent) and reskill the workforce (24 percent).” These transition strategies are significant for current employees, job seekers, business owners to note, as they impact set goals.


86 per cent learning trend

This does not mean business as usual training offerings, leadership practice and HR practices. There is recognition that companies will have to integrate learning more in the flow of work. “In a competitive external talent market, learning is vital to an organization’s ability to obtain needed skills. But to achieve the goal of lifelong learning, it must be embedded into not only the flow of work but the flow of life.” The report outlines three approaches to change.


Deloitte 3 changes - decode DEFINING KEY TERMS – What is Learning?

Learning is a term that is loosely thrown around and means number of different things for people. For some it is formal education and for others it is the rich lessons that are found in life. For another group learning is defined in rich terms based on mindset where in everything they do and all interactions, they get insights and add onto what they already know and can do. The dictionary definition of learning is “the acquisition of knowledge or skills through study, experience, or being taught. It is also the modification of behaviour as a result of any experience. It happens consciously and intentionally or unconsciously.” https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/learning

Wikipedia states that “Learning is the process of acquiring new, or modifying existing, knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, or preferences.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning

There are ways of learning and what you choose has a bearing on your retention and access to what you have learnt for later use.

The Cone of learning

Traditional Education – Teacher/Instructor-Centered Learning

For many people, learning or any form of recognized acquisition of knowledge and skills, there needs to be a classroom (“brick and mortar” structure), an instructor and a certificate at the end. In Africa, this is understandable as certificates are still revered by employers, and where you learnt and how you learnt is a very big deal. The ideas in this article by no means diminish the importance or traditional education, but it makes a case for both social, education systems and employment sector transformation to recognise and embrace other forms of learning. This is in view of the changing nature of work and the prominance of other forms of learning that digitalisation has enabled.

e-Learning – Shifts in learning brought by technology

e-Learning, which is also known as Digital Learning is any form of learning that is conducted through electronic media and is technology enabled, usually on the internet. E-learning has changed the face of learning since the late 1970s. These days, anyone with access to a mobile phone, computer, tablet or TV set with satellite access, is able to learn through those devices. No longer is it always necessary to go to training venues or learning institutions to access learning resources or instructors. Social media platforms are all channels for either sharing, receiving or engaging with others to learn.

However, with the huge amount of information and opportunities pushed at audiences every second, it is sometimes difficult to know how best to navigate this super mall or superstore of learning resources. Three other types of learning that are introduced below, could help put you back in the driver’s seat, if you practice them well.


Active Learning – You in the Driving Seat of Your Learning Journey

Faced with the many possibilities of learning through the web, as well as other ways people learn, in classrooms or training rooms, through social interaction, on the job or through practical activities, one can be faced with overwhelming choices that lead to inaction. One type of learning that is critical for you to understand and start practicing if you do not already do so, is active learning.

Active learning occurs when a person takes control of his/her learning experience. Since understanding information is the key aspect of learning, it is important for learners to recognize what they understand and what they do not. By doing so, they can monitor their own mastery of subjects. Active learning encourages learners to have an internal dialogue in which they verbalize understandings. …In addition, learners have more incentive to learn when they have control over not only how they learn but also what they learn.”  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning

Active learning Vs Passive learning
Experiential Learning – the World and Every Experience is Your Classroom

Once you are intentional about your learning and you take control of your learning experiences according to your life and career goals, one needs to think about what sort of learning experiences are important to catalyse or be part of. This is when understanding and practicing experiential learning becomes important. This is because you not only view learning as what happens in the formal classroom, of through e-learning, but learning becomes any experience.

Experiential learning is the process of learning through experience, and is more specifically defined as “learning through reflection on doing”.


Any experience where there is an action/doing can be learning. This is true, as long as you experience, observe and reflect, capture insights and conceptualise new ways of doing things and apply this or test this in new situations/experiences. This summarises the learning theorist, Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle. “Kolb’s experiential learning style theory is typically represented by a four-stage learning cycle in which the learner ‘touches all the bases’”.

Kolb Experiential Learning Cycle

READ MORE from the Simply Psychology: https://www.simplypsychology.org/learning-kolb.html

Lifelong Learning – a Future of Work Trend

Known by the acronym – LLL, lifelong learning is a critical Future of Work skill and behaviour. This is because, with more pressures organisations get to change and adapt to automation and other socio-economic, political and environmental pressures, there is more expectation on staff to be change ready. To be able to “read” changing contexts and needs of the organisation and upskill themselves to be able to offer that value. Those who make it in both paid employment, self-employment and social life, are those who are on their toes daily and atuned to the changes around them and ready to adapt and act in ways that make them “future-ready”.

ECONOMIST - How to survive in the age of automation

SOURCE: https://learnmore.economist.com/story/585a4c7289933e0042490f8d#!/page/1

“Lifelong learning is defined as the “ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated”[1] pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons. Therefore, it not only enhances social inclusion, active citizenship, and personal development, but also self-sustainability, as well as competitiveness and employability.”


The importance of lifelong learning as a trend in the era of automation is that you are not behind with changing times, both for business or employment. The benefits go beyond your work or career as commonly known, to improve the quality of your life as well. There are many benefits to knowing where the world is going and adapting as you move along at an individual level as well as in families, especially parents who need to help kids navigate a fast-changing world. Furthermore, if your skills and business offerings are not adaptable, you are likely to lose opportunities in employment and clients as well. https://corporatefinanceinstitute.com/resources/elearning/the-importance-of-lifelong-learning/

 How to practice lifelong learning – below are 10 simple ways to get you started:
10 Simple ways to practice LLL

[SOURCE to READ MORE:] https://www.teachthought.com/learning/10-simple-ways-to-engage-in-lifelong-learning/

In closing: learning is the difference maker in work, life and society. Our ability to harness this super power to our advantage should be a lifelong quest, especially in the face of so many learning opportunities today, and the future of work pressures facing us.

Ennie Fletcher Career Day blog pictureWritten by: Ennie Chipembere Chikwema, Career Coach and Learning Expert; 

E-mail: ennielifecoach@servicesgalore.co.za

LinkedIn Profile: https://za.linkedin.com/in/ennie-chipembere-chikwema-81a30910a

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/EnnieLifeCoach/

  Twitter: @EnnieChipembere

   Published:  14 May 2019

2 thoughts on “Learning and Lifelong Learning – Exploring 2 Key Future of Work Trends

  1. This is interesting. In the company I am working for, they have been developing a lot of e-learning offers for the employees. I tested them and found them very fun to use, However, I know several people who do not want to use them because they are afraid the company could reproach them for playing with the e-learning tools instead of working.


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