“Developing our skills is not just an aspiration, but with a changing job market is essential”, according to the author of the latest paper from UK government’s Foreign division. This means going beyond the pursuit of a higher education. It is about acquiring the right set of skills and technical knowledge demanded by businesses. It is also about changing attitude towards lifelong learning and becoming conscious about its positive benefits.
Despite the increasing need for continuous learning and to learn efficiently and effectively; there has been a fall in adult education and participation rate, according to the report. In addition, those who do engage in education as adults tend to belong to higher socioeconomic groups. While those with few qualification would often cite a lack of confidence, interest and a sense that they are too old as reasons to not continue learning. However, it is essential for these individuals to overcome such barriers as they are the ones who would gain most from acquiring new skills, and to avoid the risk of losing out due to technological disruptions.
Further, with investment in training by employers falling by 14% coupled with an increase in temporary employment where the responsibility for learning now shifts to the individuals; change is particularly critical for individuals who are at the highest risk of being automated. This is because they receive the least training and support from both employers and society to do so.
The report highlighted that “A longitudinal study of people who had undertaken community learning courses in the UK found that many benefits, including improved basic skills and motivation to apply for work, were felt most strongly among learners who lacked qualifications, came from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, and/or lived in the most deprived areas.”
However, the UK has yet to understand the importance and need for lifelong learning, and performs poorly in comparison to other leading nations.