Are You Connected with Learning Institutions?

`In the old days, your learning path seemed fairly set. If you were fortunate, you went to great schools. They were devoted to developing you to be a success in life. When you finished, you joined an organization. That organization had its own learning agenda for you. As you learned how to perform, you gradually made your way up, and if you performed at a high level, the way up could be spectacular.

This path was mythologized in many stories. Stories about success in school such as The Paper Chase. Stories about success by learning “on the job” like the Hornblower series. The general theme was usually the same — loyalty to strong and stable institutions paid off.

The landscape these days is not so stable and the reason is clear. The pace of knowledge acquisition is accelerating on a global level. Both schools and firms have to adjust to this — and you do too.

Consider the discussion about schools. Sir Tim Robinson’s rather devastating critique of how schools destroy creativity has been watched by millions. And he is not alone in challenging schools to re-think what students need to succeed. Seth  Godin and others have made similar points.

And consider what is happening to employers. In case you have not been paying attention for the last half century or so, here is some very old news. Many tasks are being taken over by machines. At least some of these were tasks done by people entering the work force. Ergo, young folks will find it harder to get into the workforce without some higher level skills. There is more. Firms are “flattening out”. That means fewer mid-level management positions that support career advancement. Finally competitive advantage is becoming more precarious. In other words, it is less likely that a young person fresh out of academia will find a life long home at a single place of employment.

Putting the above together, and you begin to see that people should be re-thinking their strategies for building a great life via career. Young people — indeed everyone in the work force — needs to rely more on their own initiative in order to obtain the knowledge and skills that they need to get ahead. But you can’t do this alone. And you cannot do it  by signing up for a few online courses. Instead, you need to be able to connect with “places” that offer you the learning experiences you need when you need them in order to move up. I call these places “learning institutions”.

When I use this phrase, I am NOT talking about a professional training center. Nor am I talking about a post-grad programme . Any institution may function as a learning institution if it offers you what you need to learn at the magic moment when you need it. In other words, we need to begin recognizing whether the institutions that we are connected with and are attempting to connect with fit that description, whether they are private firms, public institutions, NGO’s, training centers, universities, whatever.

How can we identify them`Good question. These places  are distinct from other institutions in that they are dedicated to future rather than present rewards. They think long term rather than short term.They generate ideas rather than just use old ones.

Good for them, but why does this mean that these places will help me, the recent graduate or ambitious worker? Because these are the institutions that need your brainpower. They need to fit you into a learning path. And that learning path will benefit both you and the institution.

So, are you connected to learning institutions? And do you have what it takes to fit int at a learning institution? Stay tuned to get more insights


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