The role of learning in the 100-year life
If you were born in 2007 in the UK, there is now a 50% chance that you will live to be 103. That means that your 10-year-old brother, cousin or child will live for 38 years after the traditional retirement age. As you can imagine, this means that their working lives will change. They may have to work for longer to fund a longer retirement or explore a variety of jobs at different points in their lives. The upshot of this is that the role of learning will change. Pearson’s mantra of #AlwaysLearning will become even more of a reality and lifelong learning could really mean learning throughout your whole life. So how will the role of learning play out if you live to be 103?
When to study
In their book The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity, Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott suggest that if there is a significant chance that we will live to be over 100, we will be unlikely to follow the traditional three-stage life (education-work-retirement). They propose instead that our lives will be broken down into four or even five stages, where the work stage is interrupted by periods of exploration and education. Looking beyond the traditional education-work route then means that we need to think about when to study.
One of the first major changes we may see is people staying in formal and informal education longer before embarking on their careers. If your working life lasts for over 60 years, you will spend more time upfront discovering what you enjoy and what you are good at. Undergraduate degrees are likely to get longer, so that experiential learning can be included in the programme. Recognising that the secret to a long working life is job enjoyment/satisfaction, it is probable that young people will be driven by their interests and passions. They will spend their years after formal education getting involved with things connected with their interests, like learning about coffee in Colombia or learning textile production through hand-looming in India. They will then find ways to turn these passions into jobs or careers.
But what about those who are already part-way through their careers? To work beyond 65 in a world where things are constantly changing, it is clear that the knowledge and skills you gained when you were 20 are unlikely to keep you in employment until you are in your 70s or 80s. This means that the career-break will become more common. People will take time out to reflect on the knowledge and skills needed in the future and will return to training and education to make sure they are prepared for that future.
What to study
As it has already been suggested, the world is changing and with it, the jobs. We can already see over the last 200 years how we in the UK have moved from rural to urban jobs and with the speed of digital innovation, the next big shift is just around the corner. So what should that 10-year-old brother, cousin or child be thinking about studying to prepare them for the future?
Indications are that the impact of technology will be seen in roles where robots can be used to remove human inefficiencies and artificial intelligence can evolve to make logical and rational decisions for us. Where the machines have not caught up is in areas such as creativity or emotional intelligence, so people with these skills will be more in demand. Consequently, more people are likely to choose humanities or arts-related undergraduate degrees or take time out of work to study things like behavioural psychology or creative thinking.
How to study
A by-product of the 100-year life is that if we need to study more and at different stages in our lives, the five days a week, the chalk-and-talk method of teaching will not work. The way education and training are delivered need to change.
Work on this area began many years back with correspondence courses and the likes of the Open University. However, technology has helped us to provide an even wider range of flexible learning options for those who want to learn. Platforms like Pearson’s HN Global give Higher National students access to a plethora of resources to enhance their learning experience and fully online programmes like the new HN Online for Business will allow learners of all ages at all stages in their lives to access formal education.
Another of the major advances we have seen is the development of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). These are online courses that are developed by universities and educators that are open to all. They are short, flexible and delivered online, which makes them perfect for those who want to upskill or learn something different to change their career direction. In fact, Gratton & Scott cite an example in their book, which shows that of the 50,000 participants surveyed by MOOCs giant Coursera, over 72% of them were taking one of Coursera’s courses ‘to achieve a career benefit’.
As employers recognise the need for different skills in their employees, more and more of them are likely to develop similar programmes. MOOCs platform providers like Coursera are likely to start including courses designed by employers as well as educators, to help plug skills gaps that the employers recognise. It is also probable that we will see an increase in digital badging products, such as Pearson Acclaim. Employers can develop digital badges in partnership with an organisation like Pearson, to visibly show competencies in a way that is portable when employees move onto their next jobs and the next stage of their lives.
So, living longer means we will need to work for longer and study more. This is an exciting opportunity, as a longer working life means more time to try new things, to explore different careers and to learn about things that we are passionate about.
Throughout history, people have always asked for more time. Well, now you have it. What are YOU going to do with it?
For more information about HN Online, please visit https://qualifications.pearson.com/en/qualifications/btec-higher-nationals/higher-nationals/hn-online.html. To learn more about Pearson Acclaim, go to https://www.youracclaim.com
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Pearson