Most people associate learning with formal education at school, college, university etc. We are all told, from an early age, that we should ‘get a good education’.
Generally speaking it is true that a formal education and the resulting qualifications are important. Education may maximize our potential to find better, more satisfying jobs, earn more and, perhaps, become more successful in our chosen career.
However, ‘schooling’ is only one type of learning. There are many other opportunities to further your knowledge and develop the skills you need throughout life.
Knowledge can be acquired and skill-sets developed anywhere – learning is unavoidable and happens all the time. However, lifelong learning is about creating and maintaining a positive attitude to learning both for personal and professional development.
Lifelong learners are motivated to learn and develop because they want to: it is a deliberate and voluntary act.
Lifelong learning can enhance our understanding of the world around us, provide us with more and better opportunities and improve our quality of life.
Learning for Personal Development
There does not need to be a specific reason for learning since learning for the sake of learning can in itself be a rewarding experience.
There is a common view that continuous learning and having an active mind throughout life may delay or halt the progress of some forms of dementia, although there is actually very little scientific evidence to support these claims. However, keeping the brain active does have advantages since learning can prevent you from becoming bored and thus enable a more fulfilling life at any age.
Learning for Professional Development
Employers are looking for well-balanced people with transferable skills. This includes the ability to be able to demonstrate that you are keen to learn and develop.
If you do find yourself unemployed then use the time wisely. Learning something new can pay-off with new opportunities which might not otherwise have arisen.
While you are employed, take advantage of training, coaching or mentoring opportunities and work on your continuous professional development as you will likely become better at what you do and more indispensable to your current or future employer.