Long Life Learning: Preparing for Jobs that Don't Even Exist Yet
By Michelle R. Weise
Wiley, 272 pp., $25
In this book, Weise offers readers hope for the future of work in a society of inadequately prepared talent. Citing futurist predictions of a 100-year work life, she creates a sense of urgency and charts the way forward for long-life learning.
Weise presents disruptive innovation theories to analyze educational trends, propose a new ecosystem for learning, and reimagine the future. She notes that the promise of a future where learning and working occur simultaneously lies in individuals' willingness to think and act collaboratively.
As society moves to a 100-year work life and retirement age increases, Weise contends that the average worker may have 20–30 work transitions. She presents possible solutions that can lead to greater collaboration among learners, employers, education providers, and governments. But the challenge remains: How can stakeholders initiate and sustain collaborative conversations and hold partners accountable for action across unintegrated systems?
Many employers, for example, rely on academic degrees as screening criteria for jobs that require competencies few higher learning institutions measure. Credential-based hiring practices along with massive student debt and rising unemployed or underemployed college graduates characterize the "rigged" systems Weise seeks to change.
Today's learning systems support frontloading education, which makes upskilling efforts costly, time-consuming, and inconvenient for individuals who must balance earning and learning. Weise argues that the linear "learn, earn, retire" model is no longer feasible and that longer work life requires "seamless on and off ramps" to work and learning. She, therefore, advocates for a new learning ecosystem that is navigable, supportive, targeted, integrated, and transparent.
In that reimagined ecosystem, career road maps enabled by artificial intelligence can help individuals leverage existing competencies as they transition to new opportunities; educational providers can create and scale stackable credentials for a wide variety of industries; and wraparound support systems can remove the real but often unacknowledged barriers for nontraditional learners. Those are just a few of her ideas. While organizations have already used some of the ideas, Weise posits that they all must be integrated to deliver long-life learning for workers.