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How to make lifelong learning a daily habit

By Manoj K Srivastava

In the words of Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland: "It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast." The dynamic business environment of today needs the same from working professionals to upgrade their skill portfolio at the same pace or more, to stay relevant in a job. The advent of artificial intelligence, machine learning, crowdsourcing, blockchain, big data, platform-based business models, augmented and virtual reality, shared economy, e-retailing, prosumer concept, life-work balance and internet of things demands a continuous learning on their part.

According to the World Economic Forum report 'The Future of Jobs', no less than 54% of all employees will require significant reskilling and upskilling and the human-machine frontier within existing tasks will change from the current 71:29 ratio to 58:42 by 2022.

This significant shift in jobs will demand working professional to extract some time from their busy work schedule and already squeezed personal time to learn what is going to be the next required skill set in their job-role, initially at their own pace and later on at the pace market forces set for the job. Continuous learning modes can be adapted according to their convenience and feasibility, be it attending online courses, training modules, short-term courses, offline classes, self-learning or simulation-based. Skills will become core currency of job growth and job-person fit will require organisations to innovate talent sourcing, developing and replacing as per the pace of demand.

Working professionals will face a dilemma to address these skill and knowledge upgrade requirements swiftly without stressing themselves too much. A suggestion is to select the learning stream of their interest and relevance rather than following a mere trend in the market.

Data show that most of them start with a lot of enthusiasm, but lose interest and efforts after a certain time as learning becomes advanced and monotonous in nature. A proper guidance may save a lot of this latent time investment and efforts. As they say, "a well-defined problem is half solved," and the same is needed in finalising the right track for continuous learning. Rather than covering large horizontal area in any skill, it is better to master relevant depth in a skill.

To summarise, a combination of strategic, analytical and human skills with creative thinking will be a cutting-edge advantage in this ever-demanding landscape of future jobs.

The author is associate professor, Operations Management, MDI Gurgaon