What is lifelong learning?

Lifelong learning is the voluntary and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge and education for either personal or professional reasons. It's a representation of our natural desire to learn, grow, explore, and challenge ourselves in meaningful ways. This could be as simple as learning some basic computer skills, joining a cooking club, or switching those Netflix binge sessions for a few hours reading or listening to podcasts.

Alternatively, you might pursue lifelong learning more formally, especially if you're interested in changing careers or climbing the corporate ladder to a senior role with extra responsibility and a bigger pay package. Examples of formal lifelong learning include online skills courses, advanced certification programs, and postgraduate qualifications such as master's degrees, PhDs, and MBAs.

The benefits of lifelong learning

Committing to lifelong learning has several major benefits. Firstly, it's an excellent way to make yourself stand out in the job market. A recent survey found only 15% of hiring managers say most job seekers have the right skills when applying for roles. Moreover, taking charge of your own learning and education displays many qualities all employers want, such as ambition, self-motivation, and a willingness to take charge of on a personal level, lifelong learning can improve self-confidence, expand your social circle, and reignite your passion.

There’s also plenty of scientific evidence to suggest human beings are goal-orientated creatures. In other words, we're hard-wired to do difficult things and constantly expand our range of competencies. As such, any form of lifelong learning can boost our overall sense of wellbeing and encourage us to achieve bigger and better things.

It's part of the new normal

The days when people spent their working lives dedicated to one or two jobs are gone. The 21st-century job market is fluid, dynamic, and flexible. And more disruption is on the way. The coming of technological transformation and increased automation will demand a broader range of skills.

For example, advanced machine learning programmers will need to combine hard STEM skills with softer, human qualities, such as empathy, collaboration, ethical understanding, and communication. Future workers will need to "virtuously combine technical and interpersonal tasks repeatedly throughout their working lives," says leading economist David H. Autor. "The most valuable workers will be those who can combine technical knowledge with human skills and adapt to the changing needs of the workplace. This requires not only a new way of working but also new ways of thinking and learning."

It's easier than ever before

The rise of online education has made lifelong learning more accessible than ever before. Almost every major university now offers some virtual or blended programs, giving people previously excluded from higher education a chance to improve their career and life choices. What's more, there is an increasing number of online learning resources that are entirely free to anyone.

Online higher education provider upGrad runs several self-paced, 100% free courses focusing on key academic and professional skills. It means anyone with a laptop and wifi connection can learn academic writing skills, the basics of macroeconomics, career planning, or how to create an email marketing campaign or search engine optimized advertising campaign. These courses take less than 10 hours. They're great for getting the feel of a subject before committing to (and paying for) a formal course of study.

upGrad: the best place to start your journey

If you're ready to take your career or educational journey to the next level, then upGrad is the perfect place to start. upGrad is an innovative online higher education platform providing a range of postgraduate courses from top industry-recognized universities, including Liverpool John Moores University, Duke Corporate Education, and The Swiss School of Business and Management.

Designed to help learners achieve their desired outcomes, all of upGrad's courses are delivered by world-class lecturers that harness the latest online education technology to create an engaging, immersive, and fully flexible learning environment. It means you can study for fully accredited, internationally recognized postgraduate qualifications at any time, from any place.

Aspiring boardroom executives can study for a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from Liverpool John Moores University. This 18-month course requires 10-12 study hours per week and allows you to get a business qualification from a UK university at a tenth of the average cost. Students can specialize in leadership, risk management, marketing, or exciting new areas with tremendous growth potential, such as digital business innovation and leading change for sustainable futures.

Other business-focused study options include a Product Management Certification from Duke University and an Advanced Certificate in Digital Marketing and Communication from the MICA School of Ideas. Both courses are ideal for busy working professionals looking to upskill without taking an extended career break.

UpGrad works with partner schools to provide courses on the most forward-thinking and lucrative industries, like data science and cloud computing. Many upGrad learners are also gaining advanced certifications and master's degrees in machine learning and blockchain technology. Some of these courses take less than eight months to complete. That puts students on a new career path in less than a year.

UpGrad's outcome-driven learning approach combines practical hands-on projects with personalized mentorship to ensure every student reaches their full potential. There are also regular live chats with faculty members and industry experts, as well peer-to-peer networking sessions, discussion forums, and the upGrad buddy system. So no matter where or when you're studying, you'll always feel part of a learning community.

This unique learning platform has helped thousands of people achieve their career goals. They include Devbrath Pant. After studying data science through upGrad, he progressed from an accounts auditor to a systems engineer role, increasing his salary by 50%. Saurav Kumar did even better after graduating from upGrad. The former systems engineer received a 90% pay hike when he stepped up to a data science role.

Are you ready to do something similar? Then visit upGrad today for more information on how and when to apply for its career-changing courses.

The article is written in association with UpGrad.