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What is the purpose of lifelong learning?

15 February 2021

An older woman learning new skills later in life.

Whether you’re a business owner that wants to encourage members of staff to continue to learn, a long-term employee of a business who wants to improve your skill set or someone who wants to learn a new skill as a method of kickstarting your career, lifelong learning is a way of picking up new information, qualifications and skills in a way that benefits all parties.

However, if you’re unaware of this term, you may not know exactly what it means. In this blog, we explain what lifelong learning is and why it could be advantageous to people of all ages.

What is lifelong learning?

Simply put, lifelong learning is education that is undertaken at any point after formal education ends. Common examples of lifelong learning include apprenticeships or internships, online courses, self-initiated learning, workplace training, vocational courses and workshops. Although often associated with older people who haven’t earned any qualifications in a number of years, lifelong learning applies to anyone who has completed formal education such as high school, college or university and wants to learn new skills.

The underlying belief within lifelong learning is that people of all ages can pick up useful skills throughout their lives. As a result, learning new skills and enhancing existing skills is likely to benefit both the individual and any professional roles it may relate to.

Why is lifelong learning important?

On a personal and professional level, lifelong learning benefits individuals by allowing them to better themselves at various stages of their lives. For existing employees in a business, this could mean being more likely to develop and broaden their range of skills, and for people that are out of work, it could help them gain the skills they need for a desirable role or convince potential employers to give them a chance.

Modern business owners understand that an employee’s suitability to a role is based on more than just traditional forms of education. Instead, the determination to complete courses in their own time and a generally positive outlook on learning new skills and information speaks wonders of their character, and that alone could potentially increase their chances of employability.

What are lifelong learning skills?

For lifelong learning to work effectively, the individual needs to possess several core skills that allow them to learn later in life. These lifelong learning skills include:

Adaptability – being flexible over opportunities, balancing home and work life and remaining informed on current processes

Creativity – being open to thinking outside the box 

Collaboration and communication – being open to working in groups, dealing with a broad range of different people and accepting the knowledge, opinions and insight of others

Curiosity – keeping an open mind for learning new skills and digesting fresh information

Information management – developing the ability to absorb new information while understanding what’s valuable and what isn’t

Problem solving – working out appropriate methods for fixing issues as they arise

Reflection – looking back on what went right, what went wrong and which learning activities were valuable, and using these observations as a baseline for future learning.

What are the advantages of lifelong learning?

Lifelong learning carries with it many advantages both for employers and employees, but what exactly are they? Below, we’ve highlighted a few of the main reasons why people believe in learning new skills throughout their lives.

  • Boosts personal and professional fulfilment
  • Breeds confidence
  • Encourages a reassessment of goals and targets
  • Enforces continued employment
  • Helps to identify personal and professional achievements
  • Increases brain health
  • Maintains relevant knowledge
  • Prolongs career
  • Promotes motivation

If you’re interested in learning a new skill and want to get hands-on experience while earning a recognised qualification, one of the financial services courses through Simply Academy could be for you.

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