How do You imagine lifelong learning?

How do You imagine lifelong learning?

Skills, re-skilling and lifelong learning are some of the most popular topics in today’s work-life discussion, both nationally and internationally. The subject covers interests in raising the employment rate and preparing for the future transformations of work among others.

Intern Pauliina Sohlo in Geneva.
Intern Pauliina Sohlo in Geneva.

Skills, re-skilling and lifelong learning are some of the most popular topics in today’s work-life discussion, both nationally and internationally. The subject covers interests for example in raising the employment rate and preparing for the future transformations of work. In Finland, the skill-level among working population is relatively high, but there is still the need for implementing lifelong learning and personal development as a natural part of everyone’s lives.

 

How does the public discussion on continuous, lifelong learning appear to those unfamiliar with the concept? To a university student such as myself, and surely for many others too, hearing about the topic for the first time it might not sound appealing: do I have to go back to school, I just got out of there into working life! The thought might cause even some anxiousness within people: is anything enough?

 

Skills and lifelong learning were also discussed in The Future of Work Summit in Geneva, which was arranged in cooperation with Finland, Switzerland, Ireland, the EU delegation and the local Graduate Institute on late November 2019. The topic came up in several parts of the event in various contexts. The idea of skills and lifelong learning in current discussions are, to my mind, often seen primarily as someone’s burden: either as costs and lost resources for the stakeholders providing the learning opportunities, or as a burden for the individual on top of all daily efforts and work already done. Should we bring the discussions into a different perspective: how do we get the individuals more interested in personal development?

 

The former President of Finland, Tarja Halonen visited Geneva as a panelist in the Future of Work Summit and drew my attention on this thought: she highlighted the importance of the question on how the concept of skills and lifelong learning is provided to individuals? According to President Halonen, it is already obvious that the first gained education will not last a lifetime at work: the first education provides the basis of one’s ”building blocks”. President Halonen stated that the future should be observed through one’s goals and dreams in life – what kind of knowledge and skills does one need in order to achieve their goals? Within these thoughts, an individual begins to build new little blocks on top of their basis, in order to achieve these goals and gain senses of personal success.

 

To my opinion, it would be important to highlight the fact that not all learning means increasing the substance knowledge, learning could also happen in other ways than going back to school lecture halls and libraries. The soft skills which technology cannot replace have been raised as the center skills for the future work. According to the Summit panelist, professor Richard Baldwin, these skills include for example curiosity, creativity, emotional intelligence and empathy. Personal development may also include some social and work environmental skills and - for example – cooperation between generations at one’s own working environment. Learning and personal development in its various forms should be a natural and meaningful part of one’s life - we should not provide the idea of it only as mandatory means of survival against the threats of the future of work.

 

The discussions of lifelong learning are often focused on the questions on who will provide and carry the cost of the education and learning possibilities, and are the providers responsible for individuals taking up the learning or do the individuals themselves hold the responsibility of their own development. Should the public discussion and strategic approach to personal development and lifelong learning be turned upside down, by looking it through individuals’ eyes: how can the idea of lifelong learning and personal development be ’sold’ to people as invigorating and as a natural part of everyone’s everyday lives? Then one could also ask whether ”a well sold idea” and the raised interest and involvement of people would enable eagerness in putting resources into lifelong learning among the providing stakeholders?

 

Pauliina Sohlo

Intern, Permanent Mission of Finland in Geneva, Autumn 2019

Master’s Degree student in Social Sciences, Tampere University

Got interested? Check out the discussions of the Future of Work from the following link!