Posted: 23 Nov. 2018 05 min. read

The importance of lifelong learning

Social and emotional learning is one of the four key skillsets supporting success in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, along with workforce readiness, entrepreneurship and technical skills. This has enormous implications for the way businesses approach, resource and deliver learning.

A young person was recently teaching me about his daily experience of living across two worlds. As a member of Generation Z, his day is a combination of life AFK (away from the keyboard), IRL (in the real world), or at the keyboard in his virtual world.

Away from the keyboard, our communities, schools and workplaces hold emotional intelligence and soft skills to task just as highly as our technical proficiencies. Not so in the virtual world. Here, life is unrestricted, ungoverned and, largely, unprotected. The survival skills we need for virtual life haven’t been taught to us by our parents and tribes over centuries of evolution.

As young people adapt to this hybrid existence, their brains and the way they learn also adapt. Gen Z learns ‘just in time’ and has far less practical requirements for long-term memory. They still need and value personal connections, but the reality for many entering the workforce, and for employers like Deloitte, is they won’t be equipped with the social and emotional skills they need for the real world. The business of engaging with clients and customers, or managing and working in teams, is where many young people acquire the self-confidence, empathy, cultural awareness and leadership skills to help them succeed in life - both at and away from their keyboard.

For a learning practitioner like me, this has enormous implications for the way we approach, resource and deliver learning.

In Preparing tomorrow’s workforce for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Deloitte and the Global Business Coalition for Education highlight opportunities for the business community to address the youth skills gap, and develop the workforce of the future.

Interesting themes emerged from the report, reimagining the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) as a unique opportunity to be welcomed, not a problem to be confronted. Setting out a vision for the revolution is a very empowering approach. It is common for businesses, teams and learning practitioners to focus on the problem of not being ready, in turn forcing ourselves into a reactive state that make the problem seem bigger. By focusing on the opportunity of the 4IR we are more likely to be prepared for it; we feel empowered to act, not react.

From a learning perspective this is important, because the changes the 4IR will make to job roles, the capabilities and skills needed to deliver on them, and where they will be performed, are significant. We must adjust how we structure learning and the methodologies we employ to prepare our young people for the future.

Four key skillsets

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is one of the four key skillsets supporting success in the 4IR, along with workforce readiness, entrepreneurship and technical skills. Building on these continuous, lifelong learnings is critical to helping youth adapt and participate in the changing landscape of work.

The vehicles used to deliver this learning are also evolving. Deloitte has a number of case study and project-based learning programs. Mentorship, coaching and exposure to business are also important ways to foster learning for the 4IR. Topics speaking specifically to the four key 4IR skillsets ensure relevant and future-focussed outcomes.

Beyond office walls and balance sheets

We’re familiar by now with the gig economy. Deloitte Review article, Beyond office walls and balance sheets: Culture and the alternative workforce, highlights the shifting nature of the workforce, with many on-campus, balance-sheet roles becoming off-campus, off balance-sheet roles. With these changes come both efficiencies and risks. We might have greater access to more diverse talent - for example, young Māori who prefer to work in locations closer to their hapu, iwi and whanau - but when our people are working as contractors in diverse locations, we must work harder to retain the value of the cultural lens of working for Deloitte. If our people are distant from Deloitte’s culture, we start to experience barriers to delivering learning, and building capabilities, within the firm.

Where next?

Preparing tomorrow’s workforce for the Fourth Industrial Revolution provides recommendations to the business community to prepare the next generation for the future of work. In New Zealand, there’s much more that business can do to work together in a non-competitive space to support education providers. For example, through Deloitte GROW, Deloitte New Zealand professionals work with young people to improve their entrepreneurship and financial literacy skills.

Deloitte collaborates with the Global Business Coalition for Education to support One Young World’s Lead2030 Challenge for SDG 4 – quality education. This challenge encourages youth applicants to submit solutions driving impact in either skills development and lifelong learning, accelerating entrepreneurship or improving access to education and skills opportunities to help prepare for the 4IR.

Get in touch

Pete Cordes

Pete Cordes

Manager, Learning & Development

Pete is an experienced learning practitioner and facilitator. He has worked for some of NZs most iconic businesses including Air NZ, Fonterra and The Warehouse Group.