As learning and development professionals, our sector is immersed in a lively conversation about changing the way we do training within organizations: Saving money, preventing waste, doing a better job connecting employees to learning resources and to each other. But that’s not the only thing the training world needs to be thinking about. We need to think about better ways to support retraining for adults.
The U.S. economy is in a difficult place, and most of the jobs that are gone won’t ever come back. As Seth Godin argues, large sectors of the jobs we’re used to having in the U.S. are in a “forever recession” – the American industrial age is on the decline and industrial jobs won’t recover with the rest of the economy. That means the U.S. has thousands of workers whose skills must adapt to a changing economy – and that means forever learning.
We have to find ways to support this constant learning, retraining and evolution in skills. Today, sites like OpenSesame, Khan Academy and Lynda.com offer self-serve, self-contained training opportunities, and we work hard to reach both individuals and organizations who are working to bolster their resumes and boost productivity. We’re in a unique position to do so because elearning makes training more affordable, accessible and easily shared – essential for forever learning. eLearning communities are the foundation for finding and sharing learning content, but the challenge goes beyond meeting individuals’ immediate and specific needs.
At both a cultural and business-strategic level, we need to do more than meeting immediate goals. Building successful companies and in turn a successful economy means creating systems that support lifelong learners in their efforts to retrain and adapt to emerging jobs. It’s incredibly expensive to hire and train new employees from scratch; forward-thinking companies must support their workforces by nurturing employees as they develop new skills. This means anticipating in-demand skills and ensuring that employees know how to learn them.
Companies will need the infrastructure for learners to find information and training opportunities, consume the content and find networks of experts and peers to connect with to discuss information and make sense of it. We’re proud to be part of this forever learning revolution. To support learners, it’s time to invest in building great content and helping both individuals and institutions to find it.
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