Continuing your education can benefit you both as an individual and as a professional as you can acquire new skills. This is how it could benefit you:
It’s a popular belief amongst many professionals that lifelong learning should be reserved for people who have reached a certain age and who need to learn new skills to stay employed. But, that’s a misperception as lifelong learning can benefit everyone. This is especially true if you are interested in career development; lifelong learning could ensure professional advancement so it's worth looking into.
But, many professionals find that although they'd like to continue their education, their busy schedules and lack of resources keeps them from investing in lifelong learning. If you are facing this problem you should consider talking to your employer as lifelong learning doesn't just benefit the employee; it can also benefit both the economy and the employer. In fact, research has proven that lifelong learning can strengthen the economy which could mean that in a few years time more and more people will continue their education after being hired.
The more skills, knowledge and ability that individuals develop, the greater the level of capacity in the economy.
What’s more, lifelong learning can also directly benefit your employer so it’s important to let them know that you wish to continue learning. Not everyone will see it as an opportunity to help their business push forward, but if you make a good case, most employers will recognise the benefits of lifelong learning for their companies. According to Aaron Skonnard, the President and CEO of Pluralsight, encouraging your employees to continue their education can help your employees perform better which is why it’s an investment your boss will be more willing to make.
But, even if your boss is not willing to pay for your lifelong learning you should look into your options for continuing your education. There are many websites that offer online courses for free or for very low prices for example. Some of them even feature materials from universities like Oxford, Standord and Harvard. But, I would also advise that you look for courses in a location near you as you’ll find that being physically present in a class can increase your engagement levels.
However you choose to kick start your lifelong learning, keep in mind that there are many benefits to be gained for your career. Just take a look at the benefits listed below.
1. It Keeps You Current and Up to Date
According to research conducted in the US, adult learners are the fastest growing segment of the population pursuing lifelong learning. The reason behind this trend is the fact that many professionals are beginning to realise that to remain competitive in the ever-changing world of business they need to stay current and updated.
The markets and the economy are changing at a fast pace, and this means that anyone interested in career development needs to be able to keep up. This is especially important since recent graduates will constantly threaten your position as they will be more up to date with the changes in the industry.
And it’s not as simple as learning a few computer skills here and there. For professionals across all industries to remain current they should closely follow trends and seek to provide depth in their industry knowledge. For example, according to Scott Brinker, a marketing expert, marketers should have started learning to program since the turn of the decade. Why? Not because marketers will be required to make their own software at any point soon, but because understanding how programming works will make it easier for them to communicate with developers which in turn can help make them more effective and persuasive.
2. It Can Motivate You
Apart from helping you remain competitive lifelong learning can also help make you happier which in turn can make you more productive. According to studies, adult learning can have positive effects on perceptions of the self which can make the individual happier and in turn more effective at work. In fact, according to research, employees who are happy can be 12 per cent more productive than non-happy employees.
Therefore, it’s especially important for professionals who aren’t satisfied with their careers to try and learn something new. The process of applying the new information you’ve learnt to your job alone can help stimulate your brain. Moreover, learning can challenge you which again can contribute to making you more interested in your work. So if you feel like you are losing interest in your career, make sure that you sign up to learn a new skill as there’s a good chance that the mental stimuli provided by the process of learning will help you find meaning in your career again.
3. It Can Help You Grow Your Network
The truth is that lifelong learning can benefit anyone and everyone at any point in their career. For example, if you are interested in changing careers signing up for a course is the first thing that you should do, not just because you’ll need to learn new skills but because it can also help you grow your network and thus get the job you want.
According to Forbes, networking continues to be the best way to find a job so you should use your continuing education as a way to meet other professionals in your industry. Your teacher or instructor is a great professional connection so make sure that you form a close relationship with them. You should also strive to meet other people who are learning.
4. It Helps Keep You Employed for Longer
It’s easy to forget that you can end up without a job in no time if your boss no longer has a use for you and this is the reason why many of us neglect to continue educating ourselves. According to recent data, it’s estimated that by the year 2020 over 60 per cent of jobs will require post-secondary education. This essentially means that in just a little over a decade, people without degrees will have an even harder time getting a job, but does that mean that one degree is enough to get ahead?
Many professionals are beginning to realise that a bachelor’s degree is not sufficient. You can’t expect information you gained before you started your career to keep you up to date. Especially since the world is being reshaped as we speak.
The only way to move forward with your career is to continue educating yourself throughout your career. This will help you remain equipped with valuable tools and information, and it will help you achieve the career development you seek. Keep in mind that the more current you remain, the better your chances are of never getting fired.
Lifelong learning can help you remain ahead of the competition so it’s important that you make the effort to learn new skills as often as possible. If you are in an industry that is constantly evolving, make sure you are equipping yourself with every tool necessary to develop your career.