​Rethinking learning in the 21st Century

Traditionally, the concept of a “career” was considered to include three elements:

  • A career represented our expertise, our profession, and ultimately our identity.
  • A career was something that built over time and endured. It gave us the opportunity to progress and advance.
  • A career gave us financial and psychological rewards. It made life meaningful and paid us enough to live well.

However, the changing world of work has disrupted all three elements: expertise, duration, and rewards.

A career can now be as long as 60 years; at the same time, due to rapid advancements in technology and the resulting changes in the workplace, skill sets can become obsolete in as little as five years.

Increasingly, companies need to rethink the way in which careers are managed and learning opportunities are delivered, and many have already begun to overhaul their career models and L&D (Learning and Development) infrastructure in line with the digital age.

Employees’ learning behaviour is also changing. In the past, employees were able to obtain the skills required for their career early on and as a once-off; now, the career itself is a journey of learning, up-skilling, re-skilling and continuous reinvention to remain relevant and to thrive in the changing world of work.

Older employees who studied at a time where most of one’s learning occurred prior to entering the workplace now find themselves working alongside millennials who place greater value on learning and progression rather than on earning potential as their first priority.

Eighty-three percent of the respondents surveyed in Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends survey said their organisations were shifting to flexible, open career models that offered enriching assignments, projects, and experiences rather than a static career progression.

However, in today’s fast-paced business world, even if companies are restructuring their L&D delivery, no one is going to make you, the individual, engage in a strategy that is essential to your future success: continuous learning. You will have to take the initiative yourself.

Noted self-help expert W Clement Stone, in his many writings on this topic, recommended that one spends anywhere from a half-hour to two hours a day in study and thinking time. This tireless dedication, combined with an insatiable curiosity, will equip you to excel in the future world of work. What’s more, learning new skills and knowledge can be fun!

The good news for both companies and for employees is that an explosion of high-quality content and digital delivery models offers employees ready access to continuous learning. The Wits DigitalCampus offers a range of accredited and online short courses to support your continuous learning.


More about Wits Plus:

Wits Plus, the Centre for Part-Time Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, offers selected undergraduate degrees, as well as a wide range of short courses. Evening classes make all qualifications accessible to working people and busy entrepreneurs. Wits Plus also offers a growing range of online short courses that enable you to study when it suits you!

Part-time courses: www.wits.ac.za/part-time

Online courses: https://digitalcampus.co.za

Tel: 011 717 9510

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @witsplus and @WitsDC

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