Lifelong learning a pathway to success

Lifelong learning is a necessity in a rapid changing environment.

Lifelong learning is defined as the development of human potential through a continuous supportive process which stimulates and empowers individuals to acquire knowledge throughout their lifetime.
By Zulita Mustafa - May 11, 2017 @ 2:31pm

UPON her return from a sabbatical, the editor-in-chief of a fashion magazine found her 26-year-old former assistant taking charge of the editorial floor. Armed with a business degree, naked ambition and an iPhone, the former assistant announces she has been brought in to turn the magazine into an app.

Feeling left out and lost among the 20-something online writers at their desks day and night, the editor-in-chief is not ready to give up her hard-earned career without a fight.

She started to pick up technology know-how, the lingo and even learnt how to create an app.

Though this is just a fictional character in Lucy Sykes’ and Jo Piazza’s latest novel, Techbitch, it reflects the real world where Generations Y and Z plus rapid changes in technology are taking over traditional ways of doing work.

It is this kind of scenario that probably prompted the Higher Education Ministry, in 2011, to publish its blueprint on the Enculturation of Lifelong Learning in Malaysia that outlines strategic initiatives to develop the lifelong learning industry for the 10-year period of 2011-2020.

In this blueprint, lifelong learning is defined as the development of human potential through a continuous supportive process which stimulates and empowers individuals to acquire all the knowledge, values, skills and understanding they will require throughout their lifetime and to apply them with confidence, creativity and enjoyment in all roles, circumstances and environment.

Mansor Md. Isa,

University of Malaya Centre for Continuing Education (UMCCed) director Professor Datuk Dr Mansor Md. Isa said lifelong learning should benefit participants in the form of increased competency in their work, upgrade skills, widen and update knowledge and improve social networking.

It also equips people with skills and knowledge that will advance their career.

A study conducted last year related to the achievement of UMCCed Executive Diploma graduates indicates that the programmes have been beneficial in terms of development of their careers including a better job offer, promotion and salary increase as well as an opportunity to further studies at a higher level.

“The target group is working adults and there are two types who participate in lifelong learning programmes. The first are those who did not have the chance to continue their education at the tertiary level upon finishing secondary school and who are now presented with a second chance,” said Mansor.

“The reasons could be due to poor academic performance, financial or social constraints. After joining the workforce, they find the opportunity to study. The second type of adult learners are those who want to study because they want to advance their career or acquire skills or knowledge.

“These are the core lifelong learning participants. They study because they want to improve themselves to become more competitive, increase productivity and improve their well-being.”

The age cohort of lifelong learners is generally between 15 and 64. Those above 64 but are still able to contribute by providing their services should be included as lifelong learner potentials.

From the age perspective, it is estimated that the number of potential lifelong participants in 2015 to be around 20 million, which is about 65 per cent of the total population of the country.

This number is expected to increase to almost 23 million by the year 2020.

Mansor said in this fast-changing environment, knowledge is the key asset that can expand the opportunity of individuals to grow and excel in their respective fields as well as enhance their ability to compete, especially in the evolving economic landscape.

by Zulita Mustafa.

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