A typewriter with the words Never Stop Learning typed on a piece of paper demonstrates lifelong learning.

Keeping pace with lifelong learning demands

Today's economy demands lifelong learning skills--how can colleges and universities fill the gap and help students keep up?

[Editor’s note: This piece originally appeared on the Christensen Institute’s site and is reposted here with permission.]

The shelf life of skills is shortening in today’s workforce. Automation is creeping into most sectors; the gig economy is booming; and all of these developments require that workers upskill, reskill, and master soft skills.

Colleges and universities play an integral role in delivering some of these skills, but they fall woefully short in delivering on the country’s lifelong learning needs. How can education providers and companies bridge the gap between the traditional, front-loaded educational experience and the ever-evolving needs of an increasingly fast-paced and turbulent economy and society?

Related content: Educators should prepare students for lifelong learning

One suitcase versus an evolving wardrobe

There is a tendency to see the transition between higher education and the workforce, from a skills acquisition perspective, as packing all your belongings from college into one suitcase, getting your first job, and then…that’s it. You unpack, settle down, and never have to pack again. If you need anything else, your employer takes care of it. This leads educational institutions, government agencies, and many companies to imagine a single, modular interface between college and a first job, and to behave as if higher education’s role is done after the graduation ceremony.

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