Steal this article. As we enter the new economy of the 21st century, named the Knowledge Society by management guru Peter Drucker, lifelong learning is more important to our individual lives, our community and our society than ever before. Feel free to use some or all of this article in promoting your lifelong learning program within your community, and within your organization. Please attribute it to LERN.
According to the Learning Resources Network (LERN), a leading association in lifelong learning, lifelong learning now has these multiple benefits for us all.
With human capital now the critical factor in a prosperous work organization, and new information being created continuously, professional development is now a lifelong activity for those in the workforce to gain new skill sets.
Professional development is especially critical for millennials (born 1980-1999) new to the workforce, who compose an average of 30% of those engaged in lifelong learning. Professional development is also essential in keeping skilled workers on one’s community. And research shows that when one person is engaged in lifelong learning, the learning benefits actually extend to those who interact with that person.
Avocational and leisure classes are also directly related to career and job advancement, with many employers asking about hobbies and interests in job interviews.
2. Community and Society Benefits
Quality of life in one’s community and society is directly impacted by the extent to which people are engaged in lifelong learning people. Research shows that wages go up, the cost to society goes down, and that benefits everyone.
People involved in lifelong learning are also about 20% more inclined to support vital community organizations, such as recreation and parks departments, public schools, and higher education.
3. Mental health
Maintaining and increasing one’s mental health is now another recognized benefit of lifelong learning. Whether it be the nature deficit that many urban residents now face, the epidemic of anxiety that our younger people now experience, or the need for social interaction among single people, lifelong learning provides not only subject matter in enhancing one’s mental health, but simply the experience of lifelong learning is beneficial to all concerned.
4. Longer Life
The research on this is clear. Lifelong learning keeps the brain sharp and active, and that leads to a longer life than would otherwise be the case, all things being equal.
5. Personal Development
Quality of life among all our citizens is now directly related to individual, community, societal and even economic well being. People of all generations are actively engaged in lifelong learning for personal development reasons, with participation among Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, Gen Z and the Silent Generation all equally represented based on their participation.
6. Changing Lives
Lifelong learning literally changes lives, sometimes overnight. Parents report their autistic children change almost immediately after the parent takes a class on autism; teachers report in classes on new techniques used the day before; Rosa Parks did nonviolent training before she created history in the civil rights movement, to the benefit of all.
7. Knowledge Society
Upwards of 15 million people a year in the United States and Canada are known to have taken an informal or formal lifelong learning class each year. The rewards of personal and professional development for our advanced societies only strengthens the need and desire of people for lifelong learning, adding to the benefits of personal development, mental health, longer life, changing lives and the next as yet undiscovered benefit of lifelong learning.