Another dot in the blogosphere?

Lifelong learning, really?

Posted on: January 26, 2021

This commentary used job disruptions brought on by COVID-19 to declare:

Such developments underscore the need for re-training and upskilling: By reminding us that we can thrive amid a generational maelstrom, and even in the same industry, if we embrace lifelong learning.

But I wonder if we, as a country, have actually embraced lifelong learning.

The author mentioned UNESCO Education Commission’s four pillars of education and highlighted one of them: Learning to know. The other three are learning to be, learning to do, and learning to live together.

If these are crucial elements in an updated concept of lifelong learning, I wonder if we have embraced all those pillars. Let’s just take the highlighted one of learning to know.

In the context of reskilling, knowing something new is not the same of doing something new. That said, I have no doubt that many have learnt “to do” to survive the pandemic. But is this lifelong learning? Might the disruption have forced emergency learning or a circumstance-based learning?

I also found the headline (“finally embracing lifelong learning”) to contrast with the content. For example:

… researchers at the Institute for Adult Learning (IAL) have found a relatively sharp decline in engagement with technologies for learning among those between the ages of 40 and 70 years

If the low take-up of SkillsFuture courses is an indication of “lifelong learning”, then this is not good news. The author cited a guest speaker who indicated that:

…the lack of recognition for Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ) by businesses, especially small and medium enterprises, would prevent working adults from taking up SkillsFuture courses.

Later in the commentary, the author described how someone who dealt more with “head” work would find “hand” work demeaning. This might also contribute to low SkillsFuture take-up.

Only the last several sentences in the article were congruous with the headline. They highlighted how people signed up for upskilling and employment programmes during the current pandemic. So I have ask: Have we really embraced lifelong learning when what we have is just a year-long snapshot?

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