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Continuous learning: The key to unlocking 4IR

A shift in focus

The fourth industrial revolution requires a shift in focus from jobs to reskilling, multiskilling and continuous learning. While focusing on jobs is also important, jobs in the new age have a radically short shelf life. Learning is going to be the currency of the future. We know that the traditional business environment cannot service the new digital workplaces we are building, and so we need to reinvent the wheel.

“What’s happening in the market, is we see companies forecasting to stay ahead of the curve, for skills they believe they will need in three years’ time, and when they get to the end of the period, these skill sets that they have projected and developed for are no longer valid. The shelf life of skills and the shelf life of jobs is becoming radically short,” says Adcorp’s Managing Director of Training Solutions, Ursula Fear.

Owning the journey

She emphasises that the youth of today cannot sit around waiting for universities and employers to prepare them for what is to come, they need to be taking responsibility for their learning journeys. Careers of the future are not a ladder to a destination as they once were, but a journey on a jungle gym with many different routes to the top. “We must teach ourselves to learn, unlearn and learn again,” says Fear.

She adds that we should take the fourth industrial revolution, turn it inside out and ask ourselves; how do we learn with a fourth industrial lens? The answer lies in accessing information, upskilling, reskilling, and owning our learning journeys and careers. This needs to be at the heart of it, but we are getting stuck in the job focus. “Make no mistake, the digital and technology implications are enormous. But our workplaces are going to radically and continuously move, continuously changing the requirements. Learning is the key to keeping up the pace.”

A way of life

To keep up with the rate of change it is estimated that we all need to be learning for at least 5-10 hours a week. How do we, as employers create the environment to enable our people to be the best that they can be, to give them this time to learn while also finding that time to learn ourselves? Make no mistake, this applies to every level of the organisation. Continuous learning must become a way of life.

“My driving passion is really to make a difference and to really impact people’s lives. I think it goes back to how I’ve been personally impacted on my journey over the course of my life, where people have influenced me, given me opportunities and believed in me. I think if you can put those ingredients in place, obviously together with hard work and a great attitude, we could all do truly amazing things,” explains Fear.

Human emotional connection is going to be a critical success factor in building the workplaces of the future. Leadership needs to come to the table here, creating a safe space for their teams to fall down, to fail and to get up and try again. They need to be able to give their leaders feedback and find emotional connection in every aspect of their lives, including the workplace. The workplace is where we spend most of our time over the course of our lives. Why shouldn’t we love being there and what we do?

Why emotional connection?

In a world that is constantly shifting, where the competition to stay on top is fierce, companies must be adaptive and creative. The benefits of emotional connection in the workplace are twofold. For example, Fear says when employees feel safe, secure and valued, they start to open up at work. You find that people start to voice their ideas, give feedback on how things can be done better, how leaders can do their jobs better, and they are happier. This creates a high-performance culture in turn, as we all know, happy people are the most productive people.

So, what does the future look like? The truth is nobody truly knows. We can predict all we like, but the great unknown remains. Let’s get excited about it. There’s no crystal ball to gaze into for infinite wisdom, but we can start to build the environments that ensure that we are ready to adapt, to handle anything that the future throws at us. New jobs are going to come up constantly, the good news is that any and all jobs can be learned. “Our efforts would be better served focusing on building an environment that supports that” Fear concludes.


About Adcorp

Across the Group we have a number of end-to-end workplace solutions solving a wide range of business challenges. We search, place, develop, train and manage people for temporary and permanent job opportunities. Our recruitment processes are renowned for their integrity, effectiveness, and the calibre of candidate experience. We also supply people resources on an outsourced basis and manage people intensive processes on behalf of our clients. Our mission is to build workplaces and careers of the future by transforming the places we work in. We do this by connecting potential.

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