Continuing our Lens on Learners series, we come to one of the most challenging and perhaps most important topics of all, yet one of the most difficult to navigate. We talk about the skills gap, the need for soft skills and ways to quantify, measure, and document them when it comes to universities, trade schools, and even adult learning, but what about starting even earlier?
LIfelong learners or adult learners fall into a few different categories, but the broadest ones are those who have been displaced from their current careers for whatever reason (as covered in our previous article) who have an urgent need to reskill or upskill to reenter the workforce and preserve their means to make a living. The second, and the topic of this article, is the group of lifelong learners that want to upskill or reskill to advance in their current career, switch careers, or prepare for potential displacement that may be on the horizon.
As we turn our Lens on Learners, we want to look at the different types of learners in today’s space, define who they are and also work to understand their needs and how micro-credentials and digital badging can help them. Let’s look at the learners with the most urgent need for retraining or additional education - those learners who are underemployed, unemployed, or have been displaced from their careers by either technological advances or other factors.
What does the word 'learner' mean to you today - and compared to 5 years ago? What about in 5 years from now? As the world of work has changed, so learners too - significantly in some respects. In our new blog series, Lens on Learners, we'll take a deep dive into what learners look like today, what their needs are now and in the future and how the modern credential marketplace is meeting the needs of the new global economy.
Throughout this series, the same questions have come up again and again. We aren’t going to pretend to have all the answers. And in outlining these ‘wicked problems’, we’re not saying that there is no work currently being done to address them: there is. In this final piece, we seek to highlight not only how far we’ve come... but the distance we have yet to go.
We all know there’s a skills gap. It’s real, it’s a problem, and it’s time that we move beyond talking about what it is, how large it is and why it matters to a more important topic - what do we do about it?
We must define employability, and understand that being employable does not equal being employed. The two terms are often used interchangeably and are confused with one another. But they are different, and that difference is related to the very purpose of teaching 21st-century skills in the first place.
While it would be great to have a federal or even global framework, because of the needs of different organizations, any framework must be adapted to meet their needs. Let’s look at the purpose of frameworks, flexibility, funding, and what it all means when we put it together.
Definition of the terms ‘skills’ and ‘competencies’ in conjunction with ‘capability’ are vital to developing any framework against which a person can be assessed and matched to a particular position or career path.