The Necessity of Life Long Learning

If this tweet that I saw recently is true, we need to have a rethink of a lot of things.

Now, when I saw Shaun’s tweet, I immediately thought about the value of a college education. If we are expecting the educational and university systems in the US to develop the next generation of employees, we are going to be sadly disappointed. The current state of things as described above, means that the job you were educated for in college, will likely be completely irrelevant by the time you’re 40.

As the trend accelerates, and I think we can agree that it’s going to, we may find that the skills we are developing in our teens are outdated before they even graduate college. Think about it. When I was in college, a CIS degree meant learning to program in PASCAL, or FORTRAN, which is why I laugh when a recruiter wants to know about my educational background, it’s not remotely relevant to a job today. eDiscovery wasn’t even a thing yet. How could I have prepared for that in college?

As I tweeted back and forth with Shaun, he talked about his Microsoft Server 2003 certifications, again, something that is long past it’s expiration date in terms of marketability.

And it’s not just in the technology sector. People who studied marketing and communications just 10-15 years ago weren’t being taught about social media. Journalism students weren’t taught about writing for the Web, and business students were not learning about big data, analytics, and AI.

Now, as those folks approach their mid-30s, early-40s, they are having to learn completely new things just to stay up to date and competitive in the job market, while possibly still paying off debt from that college degree which has become outdated already.

Given this situation, it might be time to really re-think what a college education is good for, and what we want it to be. But that’s a much larger discussion for another time.

What I want to focus on is the simple reality for everyone, regardless of their current career situation. If you expect to simply be doing the same thing you’re doing now, 10-15 years from now, you are wrong. It’s going to change, and you are going to have to develop new skills to keep up with that change. You have to keep learning new skills.

Employers, if you’re not helping your people continually develop, you’re going to end up with a lot of employees who can no longer function in their jobs, or employees who leave to go somewhere then can continue to learn and develop. The choice is yours.

Whether you want to stay competitive for your own career, or you want your business to stay competitive through all of the upheaval and change that’s coming, you need new skills.

What you studied in college won’t get you through until retirement. That is not the world we live in.

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