Learning does not stop when you leave school, college, or university. We continue to learn throughout our lives, although we might not call it learning because the form of learning generally changes once we graduate. There is somewhat of a stigma to learning--that it is mandatory and part of a phase in our lives which plots out our future. Once the learning phase has completed, we are stuck in a trajectory unless something drastic happens. We also used to assume that careers were for life. You would start your job at the bottom of the industry and, if you worked hard enough, would end up being a captain of industry when you retired. Unfortunately, or maybe, fortunately, that’s no longer the case. With the baby boom generation still firmly in the traditional captains of industry seats, and no view of leaving anytime soon, Generation X, Y, and Z are discovering career paths that break tradition.
With the backdrop of Generation X, Y and Z figuring out their place in the professional world, we also find that technology is ever changing. We all walk around with something in our bag and pocket that has the processing power of a PC from 7 years ago. We are all continuously connected and enjoy services from businesses that were unimaginable 20 years ago. Who would have thought that the preferred shopping method would be online, and usually involves Amazon, which used to sell books? Or we would be able to store our money with an organization that has no physical bank branch? Or we would be able to call a taxi, get to our destination and get out, without fiddling around with cash/banknotes and coins? Traditional businesses are crumbling, and newer starts ups are taking over.
On an individual level that means you will need to let go of the idea that you will have a single, life-long career. These were usually tied into traditional manufacturing industries which, as we move to a service-based, technology-driven, knowledge worker, are mostly fleeting nowadays--despite popular political rhetoric espoused today to the contrary. Those jobs are not coming back. The same thing can be said for ‘core expertise’. Unless you are in pure academic and scientific research, what you are good at now, might be obsolete tomorrow. Some would argue you need to start seeing yourself as a surfer, going from wave to wave. To stay gainfully employed, you need to be able to understand which industries are up and coming or over their peak and jump on the next wave when the time is right. This is why I promote professional and personal development as a responsibility we must take on ourselves. That's why I started the Library Catalog. It was my way of providing you the information you would need to stay ahead of the curve and maintain the skills that are most valued in this changing world--to help you be a leader, not only in front of your team, but at the forefront of your industry!
Another thing to consider is that separation of traditional functional roles is disappearing. You can be a great coder, but you might also be asked to be a great salesperson or project manager nowadays. As the world changes, job roles become more hybrid. There is a surge in demand for so-called ‘data scientists’ nowadays, which requires people who can relate or understand a business and the industry its in, to combine that with hardcore statistics and maths.
All this requires the generations post-baby boom continue learning. Learning resources are plentiful, with websites offering courses and companies such as Training Connection providing traditional face-to-face learning, which might still be preferred by many. For some the idea of lifelong learning can be fun, for others it sounds like eternal torture. The bottom-line, however, is that it might not be a choice anymore, but a fact of life.
As you can see, there are a lot of things to think about when you want to be a successful freelancer, entrepreneur, or career professional employed by someone else. So, you have to do as much as you can to improve your position because as workplaces change so do the way they function. Companies are no longer placing large investments in employee learning, except in special cases and among top companies. Regardless, you should own your learning because it is yours and no one can control your value or your ability to move forward when you make it your responsibility. This can be a pretty scary prospect, but there is a lot you can do in order to make yourself more successful, and better, at whatever you do.
This is a partnered post which may contain affiliate links.