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Higher education for a changing world

Ensuring the 100-year life is a better life

We surveyed 4000 Australian workers to ask them how the higher education sector can positively support a 100 year life

In the not too distant future, centenarians will be far more common. As Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott describe in their book The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity, around half of those aged 20 today can reasonably expect to live to 100. To put this into perspective, those who will live to 70 can expect to have approximately 124,000 productive hours in their lifetimes, whilst those who will live to 100 can expect to have around 218,000 at their disposal. This means a lot more time to live, create, work, recharge, and spend time with family and friends. The 100-year life also has significant implications for education and training.

Champions of education and training in Australia have long signalled the virtues of lifelong learning as a means to navigate increasingly complex career structures and to enrich lives. To ensure that our longer lives are better lives, we will need to engage much more frequently in education and training as we get older, continuously updating and refreshing our education and skills not only to enable us to keep up with the accelerating pace of change across the industries in which we work, but also to revive and inspire us to make transitions in every stage of life.


The extent to which employers feel that the current tertiary education system is preparing labour market entrants is a perennial debate. There has also been a strong focus on the education and career motivations and preferences of millennials. Little, however, is in the public sphere about the contemporary attitudes, needs and preferences for lifelong learning from current Australian workers.


To begin to address this information gap, we designed a survey of current Australian workers to better understand their views and intentions in relation to further education and training. For those interested in further study, we asked further questions to gain insights into:

  • their motivations and perceptions around further education and training
  • their preferred study modes, ideal time commitment and time constraints
  • the level of interaction they expect from industry to support their learning
  • the extent to which they believe their jobs and careers may change in the future

Our survey has four key findings, providing us with more certainty about what our existing workers really want from further study and combining education and training with a working life. What we uncovered is a story of positivity and possibility. Positivity, because Australian workers clearly see the personal and professional benefits of engaging in education throughout their 100-year lives. Possibility, because of the range of opportunities that the data unveils for us.


Register for the full report to gain insights such as:

  • Their motivations and perceptions around further education and training
  • Their preferred study modes, ideal time commitment and time constraints
  • The level of interaction they expect from industry to support their learning
  • The extent to which they believe their jobs and careers may change in the future
  • The extent to which study-interested workers are aware of emerging education models and offerings, such as micro-credentials and whether they would consider learning at non-traditional providers, including massive open online course platforms

Higher education for a changing world

Download the report

Higher education for a changing world: A survey snapshot

Published: October 2018

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