Lifelong learning is no longer optional

Organizations need to encourage employees to continue acquiring new skills throughout their careers

Years ago, a college degree virtually guaranteed the holder a good job and a good income. Times have changed. As the velocity of business and technology change continues to accelerate, the value of a college degree has shifted. Today, a college degree only helps new graduates enter the workforce; it is no longer sufficient for long-term career success. Soon, individuals will need to embrace lifelong learning to remain relevant in virtually every field.

Some of the best-known technology firms understand this challenge. Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is famous for establishing personal learning goals each year. Google searches for “learning animals” as part of its recruiting process. United Technologies’ Employee Scholar Program helps employees “pursue lifelong learning.” The list continues to grow.

Unfortunately, while a number of high-profile companies are investing in lifelong learning, others are cutting back. The percentage of employees receiving employer-sponsored training decreased by over 40% from 1996 to 2008, according to the 2015 report of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers.

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