How the shift to adult learning is changing business


Every business is built on its human resources. Those people have gone through an unprecedented change since 2020 and with it the companies they work for.

Many employers are paying more, increasing benefits and adding flexibility to once-rigid schedules to attract and retain the best talent. Meanwhile, economic uncertainties are causing other companies to rein in costs until they can figure it out. In this tug-of-war, it’s hard to anticipate which approaches can help a company stay ahead of its competitors.

It is not a good strategy to achieve growth by grinding employees to a core. Instead, companies should focus on building their employees themselves so that they, in turn, can grow the business. Adult education can be the perfect way to achieve this.

The shift to helping workers thrive where they’re planted is once again changing business as usual. And companies that make that shift accordingly will benefit. Here are a few reasons why you don’t want to miss out.

Adult education lifts everyone up

You’ve probably heard the passage from Dr. Seuss, “The more you read, the more things you’ll know.” The more you learn, the more places you will visit.” The value of lifelong learning is virtually undisputed. But it’s no longer just about learning more at work or reading more or traveling more. It’s about adult education.

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

Employers have the perfect opportunity to remove some of those barriers for employees who want to continue their education. Benefiting from this, employers can grow their own talent to meet the changing needs of their company.

The vast majority of employees agree that access to professional development opportunities is essential. If they get access, they are more likely to continue working for the employer that invested in them.

Retention, engagement, job satisfaction and productivity all increase when employers actively promote adult learning. In that scenario, anyone gets to go places.

Adult education is one 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 it will have on a company’s workforce. The pins and the holes change at the same time.

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

Automation potential in emerging technology will transform everything from sales and marketing to customer service and execution. In fact, it is already changing roles and accelerating the changes daily. Business leadership needs to look down the road and plan accordingly.

Think of the employees whose roles will be replaced by automation. Provide the training opportunities they need to move into newly created roles or future roles that require the latest technological advancements. A smart retraining strategy is a great way to retain the best and brightest of a company.

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 companies meet the challenges of current technological developments.

Adult education promotes diversity

The pandemic, social unrest and sharp political divides have pushed companies to confront their diversity demons. Diversity, equality and inclusion have reimagined everything from the board’s agendas and C-suite to the exit interview. No one said it would be easy to change hundreds of years of corporate corporate histories.

Most companies continue to struggle to achieve the DE&I goals they have set. In fact, many have made no progress at all. And if they manage to get diversity right, they can’t seem to continue with the fairness and inclusion parts.

Creating a diverse workforce requires a major shift in multiple business practices, from writing job descriptions to eliminating bias among recruiters. Adult education should not be overlooked as a potential path to achieving even the most ambitious diversity goals. And that can be done on two important fronts.

First, adult education on diversity issues for leadership and HR can change entrenched top-down perspectives. Second, companies can offer training opportunities to 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, cisgender colleagues. Adult education can narrow that gap. And once these diverse employees are on the job, continuing education can help more of them advance within the company.

It is smart to use adult education as a tool to create a truly diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce. It makes companies less dependent on market forces and more self-reliant. They create their own success from within, rather than paying lip service to DE&I goals.

Make the shift

Education can be the key to success in business. Employees know that, and they are often excited about advancing their careers to advance their careers. Companies need to embrace and support those employees.

So many forces are changing the way business is done today. Adult education is an easy and profitable way that will take employees and employers to the top of the class.


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