Learn to learn: continuing education is the key to competitiveness in the digital economy

Original author: Pat Wadors
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Universities, seeking to maintain their competitiveness, constantly ask themselves: “How can we best prepare students for the real world?” Yesterday , in an industrial economy, the effective answer to this question was a list of best-selling professional skills that universities identified and instilled in their students. However, today , in the conditions of a digitized economy, such skills-based training is no longer enough. Therefore, the best that universities can give their students today is to teach them to learn; interest them in a continuous process of education and self-education.

Today, students' readiness for life in the real world is determined by their readiness for a continuous process of education, throughout their careers; their readiness for the continuous process of re-equipping themselves. Otherwise, without giving education and self-education at least 5-10 hours a week, a person becomes obsolete as quickly as high technology.

Therefore, in a rapidly changing digitized world, only those organizations that care about involving their staff in a continuous education process are competitive. Thus, these organizations maintain up to date their ability to “take a digital wave” - adapt flexibly and quickly to market changes.

Five tips to help you do this:

  • When accepting someone to work, make sure that he is an “eternal student.” Look for talents that demonstrate your interest in a continuous education process. If a person has relevant skills for your business, but there is no interest in continuing education, he will soon become useless. Today, in the conditions of a digitized economy, the ability to quickly acquire popular skills is key.

  • Provide your employees with the opportunity to receive up-to-date modern education. Do not wait for employees to tell you that they want to learn something: when it happens, it will be too late. Instead, pay attention to service providers that specialize in providing relevant educational programs on a wide range of topics.

  • Give employees the freedom to choose what they study. Do not worry about whether the educational program you are interested in is related to the interests of your business. Self-education is a skill that requires practice, like any other skill. Studying something new, no matter what, your employees practice self-education. It is impossible to overestimate the importance of this skill. In addition, in today's dynamic economy, you cannot know what “outside skills” will bring your business invaluable benefits in the future.

  • Actively interact with your employees to determine the list of the most promising skills - useful for business and interesting for employees themselves.

  • Encourage and reward employees who demonstrate greater interest in education.

So, “preparing for the real world” is not only the task of universities. Employers who wish to maintain their competitiveness in a rapidly changing digitized economy should also create the conditions for the education of their employees. Because the atrophy of the ability of employees to study is equivalent to the failure of a business in the market. Neither the organization as a whole, nor a single employee - can not stand still. We must be involved in the continuous process of education. Only in this way can we remain competitive.

Primary sources
  1. Pat Wadors.To Stay Relevant, Your Company and Employees Must Keep Learning // Harvard Business Review (Digital). 2016.
  2. Картинки взяты из периодических изданий Гарвардской Школы Бизнеса.

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