Lifelong learning: adapting talent for the jobs of the future

Learning doesn't end at graduation

For many people, formal education ends after college. We tend to think of learning as a separate activity, disconnected from our real life. Research shows, however, that when we don’t seek out professional education and actively work at forecasting and mapping out our learning needs, our skills can decay.[1] The World Economic Forum Report predicts that many of the desired core skill sets of most occupations will be comprised of skills that are not yet considered crucial to the job today.[2] How can you make sure that your skillset grows? By seeking out learning experiences that focus on skills acquisition that includes traditional competencies as well as the “soft skills” that are necessary to drive innovation: adaptability, problem-solving, collaboration, creativity, and leadership.[3] Actively seeking learning opportunities throughout your career is the key to success.

The ROI of professional education. The workplace demands that we learn as we work and that we create learning opportunities for ourselves. Jobs are rapidly changing and the skills we acquire at school are only part of what we need to succeed. Professionals who take charge of and invest in their training tend to earn more and are viewed by their organization as engaged, motivated and able to address challenges. Learning is a long-term investment in yourself and an investment in your ability to turn challenges into opportunities.

Accessing what you know. Research shows that when we learn something new, we store that information. However, if we don’t use that new information, we have a hard time retrieving it. Known as the forgetting curve, our ability to remember what we learned over weeks, months, and years, decreases, particularly if new information isn’t retrieved and isn’t grounded in an interesting context.[4] We need periodic reminders of what we learned, aligned with contextual clues, or we may simply be unable to retrieve those memories. Professional development, particularly game-based experiential training is the key to learning. Game-based learning creates episodic memories; we remember what we learned and how we applied (or failed to apply) what we learned during a game because we can recall interesting and unusual experiences in vivid detail[5]. These experiences anchor what we learn within our personal narrative.

Flexibility for the future. Almost every job requires that we work with others, often in multiple teams, and that we innovate. Seeking out experiential professional development opportunities results in real change. Game-based training is deeply engaging and gives you exposure to different ideas and diverse perspectives that can increase creativity in your work. Studies show that engagement and metacognitive exercises during training are key drivers of learning transfer — when the training is engaging and includes reflection, you are more likely to apply what you learned to your work. Giving yourself training opportunities that push you to get out of your comfort zone should become a lifelong habit. Taking charge of your learning allows you to reinvent your professional self, giving you more options for careers in the future.

Read more about executive education here.


  1. [1]

    See Sawyer, T., White, M., Zaveri, P., Chang, T., Ades, A., French, H., ... & Kessler, D. (2015). Learn, see, practice, prove, do, maintain: an evidence-based pedagogical framework for procedural skill training in medicine. Academic Medicine, 90(8), 1025-1033.

  2. [2]

    For more, see the 2016 World Economic Forum Report:

  3. [3]

    According to the PxC’s 2017 CEO Survey, “soft skills” are sought after as drivers for innovation:

  4. [4]

    N. J. Cepeda, E. Vul, D. Rohrer, J. T. Wixted, and H. Pashler, “Spacing effects in learning: A temporal ridgeline of optimal retention,” Psychological Science, 19, 2008, 1095–1102.

  5. [5]

    For more on episodic or autobiographical memories see: Carey, B. (2015). How we learn: the surprising truth about when, where, and why it happens. Random House Trade Paperbacks.