When you consider the word learning, what is the first thing you think of? For many of us we associate the idea of learning with school and college, of being children and young adults. But with the ability to learn throughout our lives, and the immeasurable benefits it brings, should learning really just be restricted to our earliest years?
Lifelong learning is a term that we have seen around for some time now, particularly across our industry as further education advocates, we believe that you should never stop striving for self-improvement, whether that be in your professional or personal life, or both!
But what is Lifelong learning? In this guide, we get into the nitty gritty of what it truly means to be a lifelong learner, and how taking the time to learn a new skill, adopt a new hobby or simply just going back to your studies could benefit you in ways you could never imagine.
Why You have To Get Familiar Lifelong Learning!
Lifelong learning is a concept that has become more well-known in recent years; as the world progresses and technology constantly advances, the basic skills and qualifications we gain in childhood are often not enough to carry us through our entire lives, and this is where the idea of lifelong learning comes in!
The official definition of lifelong learning is;
The provision or use of both formal and informal learning opportunities throughout people’s lives in order to foster the continuous development and improvement of the knowledge and skills needed for employment and personal fulfilment.
The idea that we can constantly improve across all areas of our lives by being open to new ideas, thoughts, concepts and achievements means that we can never be held back by ourselves, and this knowledge can lead to great possibilities.
Could YOU benefit from Lifelong Learning?
One of the greatest things about lifelong learning is that anyone can benefit, regardless of the situation! Stay at home mum, fulltime worker, single parent, young or old; anyone can adopt the lifelong learning mind set and reap the rewards.
At the Online Learning College, we are regularly contacted by individuals who for whatever reason feel unable to access one of our online courses. This could be financial or circumstantial, but it is always unnecessary. We believe in empowering every single one of our learners to embrace lifelong learning, and that is why we aim to make our courses affordable and flexible, so that there is no excuse not to thrive!
Have you spent the past 10 years working as a mechanic, but have a passion for IT? Lifelong learning is about grasping those opportunities to learn and progress, and building the bridge between an interest and a skill, because what starts off as an investment from you, could pay off in dividends later on in life.
What’s great is that lifelong learning isn’t just for professionals! Have you ever had that sense of pride and fulfilment from learning something new? This could be as small as learning a new word or as big as perfecting how to play the piano; whatever it might be, and whatever it means for you, it is a skill that makes you unique and one that can open the door to other possibilities.
Professional Lifelong Learning
We know that the vast majority of people consider learning to be associated almost entirely with studies or a profession. Whether you are doing a work-based NVQ to learn on the job skills, have regular training in your role, or are doing an at home course that will help you land your dream job, it is certainly true that learning in this way will help you on your professional journey.
What we like to tell our learners, and what we want everyone to understand is that lifelong learning can be applied to almost every single aspect of one’s professional life. You might think that learning a new skill that has no relevance to your career goals is a waste of time, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
So, to outline some of the key career benefits from taking up lifelong learning, we have broken things down into some of the key areas that people worry about the most when it comes to their own career and professional progression.
Getting Noticed – How To Stand Out During The Application Process!
In this digital age that we now find ourselves in, it is simply unrealistic to assume that the qualifications gained in school and college will be enough to sustain us through the rest of our career. The fact is that the world we live in now is forever changing, and constantly and rapidly evolving, meaning that it is much easier to get left behind.
When it comes to applying for positions, this is particularly relevant with employer’s now seeking more well-rounded individuals to fill their roles, so getting yourself noticed is harder than ever. However, if you like so many others are worried about your CV not being up to scratch, considering lifelong learning could be just the thing you need.
It is important to understand that qualifications are not everything! Whilst the majority of modern positions will require at least some formal level of qualifications from you, schooling is not the be all and end all of what makes you employable. Whilst your diploma in computer science may get you the interview, to stand out amongst your competition employers will be looking for so much more than numbers on a page.
By adopting lifelong learning as early as possible, you give yourself that advantage, allowing future employers to see that not only are you interested in your chosen field, but you have also got so much else going for you. Lifelong learning in this regard is about making yourself so versatile that your employer struggles to say no!
When you apply for your dream job with a traditional CV of education, brief background and a summary you are essentially blending into the crowd of applicants, and these days most jobs receive hundreds! By showing that you are a lifelong learner, you are telling your potential employer that you are self-motivated, driven, enthusiastic and most importantly willing and eager to learn!
Staying Ahead Of The Game – Making Yourself One Step Ahead!
The traditional work environment is something of the past, with more roles becoming flexible and technology being at the forefront of business it can be all too easy to lose your way and become complacent. If this sounds like you, don’t worry – it is a common problem that can easily be rectified!
Regardless of your current job role, the hours you do or the environment in which you work, you can still easily instil lifelong learning to not only ensure you stay motivated, but also to make sure you stand out as someone who really knows what they are doing.
Choosing to be a lifelong learner in this situation can be something as simple as reading those lengthy documents that are emailed around to all employees, it could mean attending meetings and seminars which aren’t compulsory, you could even request to go on further training. The large majority of employers will not deny someone who wants to learn and improve the chance to do so, and it will also make you stand out for when that next promotion opportunity rolls around!
Essentially you are harnessing yourself with numerous skills that make you invaluable in your work environment, which can lead to higher job opportunities and improved income!
Personal Lifelong Learning
We could talk forever about the numerous ways that lifelong learning can be great for your professional career – but to keep things as concise as possible, let’s move on to the less obvious benefits of lifelong learning!
Contrary to popular opinion, deciding to learn something for the sake of learning has a whole bunch of benefits, and it is a real worthy use of your free time! Whether you are opting for a hobby, researching around a brand new topic or doing extra homework off your own back, there are dozens of things you can do that will not only make you more employable, but will also give you a host of unexpected perks!
Learning for its own sake can be fantastic for your confidence and self-esteem! Knowledge is power as the saying goes, and being able to have educated conversations about unusual and niche subjects can do marvellous things for one’s sense of self-worth!
With everything changing around us from one week to the next, having the skills and knowledge to be adaptable is one of the most beneficial outcomes of lifelong learning. By perusing knowledge and skills throughout the course of your life, you will be much less exposed to the risks of change when change does happen.
Quality Of Life
It probably goes without saying, but undertaking both formal and informal learning activities on a long-term basis can massively improve your overall quality of life. With both personal and professional lives being directly affected, this will in turn result in a much more positive life experience for you.
This is perhaps a less obvious one, but by improving your life across all areas, you are likely to also benefit from improved health as a result. Those who feel content and happy in their work lives as well as their home life are less likely to become depressed, anxious or unwell. Lifelong learning can have a direct impact on both mental and physical wellbeing.
Final Thoughts: Should You Be Considering Lifelong Learning?
The benefits of lifelong learning mean that you can do as much or as little as you wish, but by choosing to strive for regular and consistent learning, you are not only enriching your life but also giving yourself the tools to progress.
If you are unsure where to start with lifelong learning, consider making a list of what things interest you. Are you in your dream job? What courses or extra learning could you do to make it even better? If you haven’t got to that place in your life yet, then what do you need to do to improve your chances?
We offer a great range of online courses that can really kick start your lifelong learning journey, and provide you with the initial information and tools needed to further explore your passions. With a wide range of sectors covered, and flexible payment plans, we encourage anyone considering lifelong learning to take a look at the options available!