Don’t stand still: the importance of CPD and lifelong learning

By Anne Sexton - Last update

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Lifelong learning, upskilling and continuous professional development are more important than ever before. Business and technologies are changing. As a result, it has become crucial for employees to upskill. You may have thought you were through with learning once you finished formal education, but it is unlikely to be the case.

An educated workforce attracts investment

Ireland has been able to attract many high profile companies to our shores. These include tech giants such as Google, Facebook and Amazon. Ireland’s low corporate tax rate is an important reason many multinationals have their EMEA headquarters here. However, Ireland’s educated workforce is also an important incentive.

As technology becomes more sophisticated and integral to all sorts of businesses, employees need to keep apace of the changes.

The 2016 report of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs noted the importance of lifelong learning. It found that “as the shelf life of skills is becoming shorter, engagement in lifelong learning for those in employment will be key to their continued employability.”

Professional transferable skills

As well as academic and technical skills, employers are keen to hire staff with strong professional transferable skills. These are skills that can be “transferred” to many different contexts. These include communication, leadership, problem-solving and decision-making skills, as well as the ability to work as part of a team.

The great thing about professional transferable skills is that you can acquire them in several different ways. Educators are increasingly adding assignments to their course work that help hone these skills. However, they can be also be learnt on the job.

Lifelong learning takes many forms

Lifelong learning does not necessarily mean returning to formal or full-time education. It includes short as well as long-term courses. In addition, online courses, workplace training and continual professional development events are all forms of lifelong learning. Whatever form it takes, you will have learnt something new or added to your skills.

Furthermore, many adult learners need to maintain their professional standing by undertaking continuing professional development (CPD) courses.

Many professions have core competency frameworks. These provide structure and guidance for CPD requirements of its members. These core competency frameworks ensure that professionals stay up to date with changing skills and best practices.

The biggest advantage of lifelong learning is that you maintain your employability. However, adults also upskill long after they have finished their formal education because of desire to increase their knowledge. Learning, for the sake of knowledge itself, is a worthwhile endeavour.


Anne Sexton

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