Lifelong learning is a term that many young and mid-career professionals instinctively shy away from, usually without stopping to consider why.
Think about it: the first two decades or so of our lives are spent in classrooms, where we try to (and are made to) absorb knowledge like a sponge with water. Also, acquiring deep skills is all the rage now, since five cabinet ministers confirmed its importance at the same time.
But education is probably the furthest thing from your mind when you’ve just spent a quarter of your life in classrooms. Perhaps that’s why younger folks tend to associate lifelong learning with older and more senior individuals – think recreational classes targeted at retirees.
As for the mid-career pros -- you may still be in denial, thinking you’re not old to the extent of being “outdated”. Or maybe you just haven’t found time to learn.
At least that’s what you tell yourself.
But it doesn’t make sense to live 50 years of life resting on your laurels just because you’re done with 20 years of “formal education”. Even Candy Crush needs to be updated every once in awhile with new information. So should you.
Here’s why lifelong learning is for people of all ages, at all life stages.
1. To ensure your skills set are always updated. Just like the latest iOS version.
With technology replacing jobs at every turn, you’ll be hard pressed to find any job that will continue to take you, as you are , since you graduated all those years ago.
That’s the hard truth, we know. But it’s an undeniable fact that the nature of jobs is changing, and there’s no point in shoving square pegs into a hole that’s become round.
Instead of trying to siam new things because “that’s not what a ( insert profession ) does,” or because it’s bothersome, take up the challenge of learning a new skill. You could also deepen your knowledge of a skill that’s relevant and useful to your field.
Be more kiasu . Or better – kiasi . Adapt to the changing dynamics of the job.
That’s one way to ensure that your boss will still want you around for years to come.
2. Even if you’re not from Harvard, you could always make people think you are.
There are more than a few benefits to having a wide range of skills and knowledge.
These include, but are not limited to: becoming a more interesting person, a more eloquent conversationalist or a better leader.
You never know when your skills in writing a business plan, landscaping, plumbing or speaking German will come in handy and help you out at work. Die Daumen drücken.
And when the opportunity arises (i.e., when the big client that your company snagged speaks German) you’d be able to get things going, and earn you respect.
So don’t be a square. Be round, preferably not physically. Be all-rounded. You’ll be better as a human being too.
3. Reap the benefits of being a semi-genius (sorry we can’t all be Einstein ) earlier.
It’s quite a simple logic, really, but the thought just doesn’t occur to many of us (including me).
You’d study for a Masters in order to earn more or to beef up your resume for a better job. And that’s what many young professionals today are doing. So why don’t we think about lifelong learning in the same way?
In today’s fast-changing job market, the skills you have now could be rendered redundant as quickly as Snapchat when Instagram introduced their rival “stories” function. And the jobs of tomorrow? They probably don’t exist yet.
To stay ahead of the game (to earn more) and get first dibs on future jobs, you’d need to constantly be learning and upgrading your skills. So start young la . When you have more energy and time.
Bonus reason: The younger you are, the faster you learn
It’s been said that younger people learn faster, which means increased productivity. But for the elder folks, take heart -- research has shown that “older” brains store information more efficiently.
Either way, the good thing is that it’s never too late or too early to start learning.
And just like the kiasu Singaporean you are, you wouldn’t want to miss out on taking advantage of the resources out there -- like the SkillsFuture skills-based modular courses -- over 500 flexible, subsidised, bite-sized skills-based courses that will fit into any busy schedule.
So time should be no issue for you to pursue courses that can help you deepen skills in your area of work, be it in social media marketing, supply chain management or even digital forensics.
If you’re 40 and above, you can tap the SkillsFuture Mid-Career Enhanced Subsidy -- which gives you subsidies of up to 90% for SkillsFuture Singapore-supported courses and at least 90% of the programme cost for courses subsidised by the Ministry of Education. (Nitec to postgraduate level are also subsidised at least 90%.)
Chop chop, there’s no time to lose. Time to start your lifelong learning journey and make your remaining years work for you.
Starting from now.
This sponsored post helps Mothership writers pay for our next Korean language class. Cos’ we’ve finished using our $500 credit.
Top image from Getty Images.