Why Learn Even at 40?

The world we live in is changing. Globalization, digitalization and other mega trends are changing the way we live, work and play. In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the changes, influencing us to adapt to the new norm.

Times Are a-Changin’

According to a report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, 40% of G20 countries report difficulties in finding the right people to fill jobs.

Some of the skills we used to learn are at the risk of becoming irrelevant. In some cases, automation is removing the need for human input hence lower-skilled workers are at greater risk of being left behind.

Did you know by 2025, time spent on tasks at work by humans and machines will be equal? According to “The Future of Jobs Report 2020” by the World Economic Forum (WEF), technological adoption by companies will transform tasks, jobs and skills by 2025. 43% of businesses indicated they are set to reduce their workforce due to technology integration.

As surveyed by WEF, top skills required by employers include critical thinking and analysis, problem-solving, and skills in self-management such as active learning, resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility.

Window of Opportunity

Inevitably, the window of opportunity to reskill and upskill is becoming shorter. While online learning and training is on the rise, the urgency in reskilling and upskilling is even more prevalent now. 50% of all employees need to reskill at one point, while 40% of core skills will change in the next 5 years.

In order to seize the opportunity to upskill, we would need to strike a balance of both soft and hard skills. According to LinkedIn, the following soft and hard skills are in-demand by employers.

Credit: LinkedIn Learning

Soft skills such as creativity, collaboration, persuasion and emotional intelligence are the foundation of every working professional and critical to success at the workplace.

And as we move into the fourth Industrial Revolution (or Industry 4.0) where smart technology is dominant, hard skills like blockchain, cloud computing and analytical reasoning are highly sought-after. Technical skills such as video production and UX design are still popular too.

Learning is Age-Proof

However, a common excuse I hear is “I don’t have time” or “I’m too old to learn” or worse, “I’m comfortable where I am. I don’t need to learn anything new”.

You see, learning is not determined by age or level of comfort. Even at 40 or 50 years old, one can learn and pick up new skills, get out of his/her comfort zone and find new purpose.

I used to teach night classes for adult learners, who were as young as 25 years old and as experienced as 50 years old. They came from all backgrounds from engineering to sciences, sales and media, and they were in the classroom every Tuesday night learning about social media and analytics, which were subjects different from what they were doing professionally.

But because they knew they wanted to upskill and learn something new; because they were equally determined to make a difference in their career; and because they were willing to learn, the battle was already won. Their hearts were in the right place.

Future-Proof Your Learning

In short, we need to learn new skills to prepare for the future regardless of age and background. We can no longer be idle or comfortable.

Start first by identifying the skills required to develop your career further and match the skills with relevant training and courses offered by institutions of higher learning such as Ngee Ann CET Academy. You can also take up free resources at LinkedIn Learning and Grow with Google.

We can only secure our future through change. And change is already happening in the way we live, play and work. Embrace change and explore the possibility of unlearning, relearning and learning today.

Ronald Wan is a digital marketing professional and educator. He believes in learning and sharing of knowledge with people. However, he does not share his fries with anyone.