“A happy life is one spent in learning, earning and yearning” – Lillian Gish.
Continuous learning is described by Wesley Chai as the ongoing expansion of knowledge and skill sets and is often used in the context of professional development.
Continuous learning in the workplace can be described as developing new skills and knowledge while reinforcing what has been previously learned. Learning is a never-ending process and is crucial for growth. As a working professional, partaking in continuous learning paves the way toward success, not only for yourself but also for the development and growth of the organisation.
The world is forever changing and evolving; therefore, organisations must stay up to date with skills and knowledge trends to remain competitive and continue to thrive. Individual learning plans should be seen as a tool to assist organisations in adapting to new trends and changes in the world of work. Learning in any organisation should never stop. It should be a continuous process, one that organisations are heavily invested in.
The need for continuous learning and development is a global phenomenon. The 2022 Workplace Learning and Development Trends Research Report indicated that “74% of employees say they are more likely to stay with a company that offers continuous training”. Identifying the right training programs and developing structured learning pathways will assist individuals fulfill their potential. This should result in loyalty from employees and reduce employee attrition.
The importance of learning and development has also been recognised by the South African Government. Several legislative measures are in place to support and ensure that learning takes place in the South African working environment. They include the Skills Development Act and the requirement to submit annual training reports (ATRs) and workplace skills plans (WSPs) to the relevant SETAs.
Continuous learning is not instilled in the short term. It is a medium- to long-term goal that requires buy-in, commitment and planning from various organisational stakeholders. Successful implementation can create infinite exploration possibilities for individuals and return on investment for organisations. It results in the ability to connect with others in a team, to learn from each other and, in so doing, build a platform for collaboration and discussion. These touch points create opportunities to change and adapt, and increase resilience in ourselves and our organisations to meet whatever challenges and opportunities may come.
“We can’t predict how our careers will develop or what the world of work will look like in the future. Investing in our ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn helps us increase our readiness for the opportunities that change presents and our resilience to the inevitable challenges we’ll experience along the way.”
Harvard Business Review, 2021
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