Learning & Development

Continuous Education—Not Just a Term but a Business Reality

Educating the modern workforce is a not a one-off effort completed upon graduation from high school or post-secondary education. In today’s dynamic business and employment environment, businesses and employees need to constantly adapt to changes in global competition, technology, government regulations, market trends, and a host of other factors.

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This means that the expectation of senior leaders, training and development professionals, supervisors, and managers should be that employees at all levels of an organization are continuously learning new skills and improving on skills they’ve already developed.

The Impact of Technology

In addition to changing the business landscape, advances in technology also mean that the potential for human workers to be replaced by automation is increasing.
This is particularly relevant for employees in so-called “middle skills jobs.” According to Foundry College, middle-skills jobs are defined as “those that require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year college degree [and] make up 53 percent of all jobs in the United States.”
Foundry College recently announced a new type of online 2-year college specifically targeted at these middle-skills employees, with the goal of helping those employees improve certain “soft skills,” such as critical thinking, problem solving, communication, and others.
It is felt that possessing these types of soft skills will make one’s job less vulnerable to automation because such skills aren’t easy to automate.

Building Soft Skills

The benefits of the new program are intended to extend beyond the labor force. Foundry College notes that middle-skills jobs are often the types that are impacted by a skills gap—where the pool of available applicants lacks many of the skills needed to fill the open roles.
Major gaps exist, Foundry College says—“50,000+ openings per functional role per quarter.… And, these gaps are negatively affecting businesses across the U.S. According to research from Harvard Business School, 69% of HR executives say their inability to attract and retain middle-skills talent frequently affects their firm’s performance.”
Continuous employee education is becoming increasingly important and increasingly common among employees of all skill levels. Rapidly changing business environments and the threat of obsolescence through automation mean that employees need to continuously improve their credentials to remain relevant for desirable jobs.