The employer-employee relationship has changed. This is evident by the regularity with which individuals change their employers. It remains to be seen what name historians and future generations will use to refer to this era of fundamental transformation in the employment relationship. Whether this period is said to be characterised by a “transition to a knowledge-based economy,” “the advent of global sourcing,” or the “start of the digital age,” the bottom line is that the demand for talent has been, and will continue to be, anything but stable.
Similarly, individuals’ work-related knowledge, skills, and abilities are subject to continuous obsolescence and displacement. As such, the survival and adaptability of individuals in today’s talent market depend on their “learning” a living, that is, refining and adding to their skill sets throughout their careers to adapt to ever-changing requirements. Gone are the times when career-related learning referred to a choice made only once and early in one’s career. Today, individuals make many continuous-learning choices as they navigate the “permanent whitewater” of today’s talent market.
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Continuous learning can lead to a variety of spiritual, economic, and psychological outcomes. In terms of spiritual outcomes, continuous learning is framed within the context of work ethic – as an honourable pursuit required to further one’s alignment with his or her divine calling.
The economic emphasis of continuous learning is depicted as being related to valuable individual (advancement and employment stability within the firm) and organisational outcomes (the ability to maintain full-employment policies, minimise costly turnover, and adapt to changing business requirements). Here the primary emphasis of continuous learning is on organisation-initiated and organisation-sponsored training and development. For example, preparing individuals impacted by downsizing for redeployment within the organisation.
Where redeployment within the organisation is not an option after downsizing, continuous learning is advocated as a way for individuals to enhance their employability and prepare for a “boundaryless” career across organisations.
Finally, the notion of psychological success as an outcome of continuous learning is based on the psychological contract as occurring between the self and one’s work (rather than between the self and an organisation). Here the depiction of psychological success transcends job satisfaction and task involvement, focusing instead on the extent to which careers and deeply held values are aligned.
Whatever your motivation may be for pursuing continuous learning – spiritual, economic, psychological, or a combination for that matter, the importance of training and development is clear.
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