How the shift to adult learning is changing business


Every business is built on its human resources. These humans have seen unprecedented changes since 2020 and, with them, the companies they work for.

Many employers are paying more, increasing benefits and adding flexibility to once-rigid schedules to attract and retain top talent. Meanwhile, economic uncertainties are causing other companies to limit their costs until they can overcome them. In this standoff, it is difficult to anticipate which approaches can help a company to get ahead of its competitors.

It is not a good strategy to achieve growth by reducing employees to a node. Instead, companies should focus on training their employees themselves so that they, in turn, can grow their business. Adult learning can be the perfect way to do this.

The shift to helping employees thrive where they are based once again changes the status quo. And companies that make this change accordingly will benefit. Here are a few reasons why you don’t want to miss out.

Adult learning helps everyone

You’ve probably heard the quote from Dr. Seuss: “The more you read, the more you will know. The more you learn, the more places you will go. The value of lifelong learning is virtually indisputable. But it’s not just about learning more on the job, reading or traveling more. This is adult education.

The adjective “adult” is significant here, and not just because those who learn are past the age of majority. It is used because working adults face many more obstacles during the learning process. There’s the transition to education, its cost, the time it takes, and all the normal distractions of full-time jobs, kids, and – maybe – a social life.

Employers have the perfect opportunity to remove some of these barriers for employees who wish to further their education. If employers take advantage of this, they can develop their own talent to meet the changing needs of their business.

The vast majority of employees agree that access to professional development opportunities is vital. If they have access to it, they are also more likely to continue working for the employer who has invested in them.

Retention, engagement, job satisfaction and productivity all increase when employers actively encourage adult education. In this scenario, everyone can move.

Adult learning is a piece of the HR strategy puzzle

Automation, driven by the development of artificial intelligence and machine learning, is also changing the face of business. Long-term HR strategies must consider the impact they will have on a company’s workforce. Pegs and holes transform simultaneously.

It’s an almost overwhelming proposition for HR managers. They look at the list of employees and see how many people could be made redundant by technology. At the same time, they are looking at new positions created by this technology and wondering where they will find the talent to fill them. Adult education should be a piece of this puzzle.

The automation potential of emerging technologies will change everything from sales and marketing to customer service and fulfillment. In fact, it is already changing roles and accelerating day-to-day changes. Company management must scan the road and plan accordingly.

Consider employees whose roles will be replaced by automation. Provide the educational opportunities they need to grow into newly created roles or to manage future roles that the latest technological advancements will require. A savvy requalification strategy is a great way to retain a company’s best and brightest.

Taking a long-term view will also transform other HR functions, such as job creation, recruiting, hiring, and onboarding. Of course, technology has challenged the status quo since the invention of the wheel. Adult education will help businesses meet the challenges posed by today’s technological developments.

Adult learning promotes diversity

The pandemic, social unrest and acute political divides have pushed companies to confront their diversity demons. Diversity, equity and inclusion has reshaped everything from board and C-suite agendas to the exit interview. No one said it would be easy to alter hundreds of years of corporate collective histories.

Most companies continue to struggle to achieve the DE&I goals they set for themselves. In fact, many have made little progress at all. And if they manage to get good diversity, they can’t seem to get through the equity and inclusion steps.

Creating a diverse workforce requires a sea change in several business practices, from writing job descriptions to eliminating recruiter bias. Adult learning should not be overlooked as a potential route to achieving even the most ambitious diversity goals. And it can do this on two key fronts.

First, adult education on diversity issues for leadership and HR can change entrenched top-down perspectives. Second, companies can provide training opportunities for current team members. Employees of certain races, social backgrounds, genders and sexual orientations may have missed some of the educational opportunities of their white, male and cisgender colleagues. Adult learning can reduce this gap. And once these diverse employees are on the job, continuing education can help more of them advance within the company.

Using adult education as a tool to create a truly diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce makes sense. This makes companies less dependent on market forces and more autonomous. They create their own success from within, rather than pay lip service to DE&I goals.

make the change

Education can be the key to success in business. Employees know this and are often enthusiastic about pushing their own to advance their careers. Companies must welcome and support these employees.

So many forces are changing the way business is conducted today. Adult training is easy, cost-effective training that will bring employees and employers to the top of the class.


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