Not all learning comes in the classroom…
There are many different ways to carry on your education – whether it’s by taking a course, or continuing your personal development in a less formal setting. And it doesn’t necessarily have to come at a cost.
To help you see which options are open to you, here’s everything you need to know about lifelong learning:
What is lifelong learning?
Lifelong learning is the broad term for education that is conducted beyond school.
Therefore it’s voluntary, rather than compulsory, and is completely self-motivated – with the main goal being to improve personal or professional development.
How is it learned?
Lifelong learning can be conducted in a variety of different ways, whether it’s through formal training (such as a professional qualification), or something far less structured.
It can be taken through instruction or coaching, but the term also includes any form of self-taught learning.
Even our daily interactions with our colleagues, and the knowledge and behaviours we learn both inside and outside of work, can be classified as lifelong learning.
What are some examples of lifelong learning?
Because it’s such a broad term, there are many different ways you could continue adding to your knowledge.
Some examples of lifelong learning include:
- Internships and apprenticeships
- Vocational courses
- Teaching yourself a new language
- Studying a new subject
- Learning to use new pieces of technology
- Playing a new game or sport
- Adding to your skillset during employment
- Gaining knowledge and learned behaviours from your environment
However, this is by no means an extensive list – and any attempts to actively build your skills will generally fall under the category of lifelong learning.
What are the benefits of lifelong learning?
There are a number of advantages to this form of studying. Including:
- To gain a new qualification
- To add to your transferable skills
- To increase your employability and promotion prospects
- To earn more money
- To fill a skills gap
- To broaden your knowledge
- To better contribute to the community
- Mental stimulation
- Personal and professional satisfaction
Why is it important?
As workplaces become increasingly diverse and complex, more and more employers are realising that formal qualifications aren’t the only way to identify desirable staff.
The knowledge gained through previous experience, as well as any skills which have been self-taught or learned along the way, could greatly benefit the business.
Lifelong learning also ensure their employees continue to develop, and shows their desire to grow on a professional level.
Tips for lifelong learning
If you’re considering continuing your education but you’re not sure where to start, here are some of our top tips:
Utilise technology – Whatever subject you’re interested in, there are a wealth of online resources out there to help you learn. Listen to podcasts, download eBooks, take a distance learning course or join forums to continue your development.
Ask your employer – If you’re already in work, ask your employer to help you with personal development planning. Chances are they already offer a lot of training internally, and may even subsidise the cost of a new certification if it helps add value to the business.
Stay motivated – Because this form of learning is completely voluntary, it will often require self-motivation and dedication to stay focused. Offer yourself incentives to keep going, or ask a friend or family member to help you stay on track.
Add some structure – Try setting aside the same amount of time for studying each night, or each week, make sure you stick to it, and try and write down a goal for each session. Take your learning seriously, and you’re far more likely to stick to it.
Take every opportunity – It isn’t just a new certification you can gain from lifelong learning. There are plenty of opportunities out there to add to your knowledge, from taking a class in the local community centre, to joining reading groups or even watching webinars.
Don’t make excuses – Finally, there are no barriers to lifelong learning. Free courses are out there in everything from accountancy and business management through to marketing, coding and tech. And there’s nothing stopping you simply picking up a book and learning about a new subject. So, no matter how young or old you are, and no matter how much time you have, there’s something out there for you.
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