Lifelong learning is becoming an economic imperative: a formation that does not stop at the school, but which continues for life.
A learning program for workers of all ages and grades would improve productivity and increase people’s employability. But beware: it is not simply a refresher training. Lifelong learning, in fact, improves not only the skills of personnel related to a job, but also ensures that workers acquire transversal skills – digital ones, for example – that will facilitate them in different tasks and in a possible relocation to the labour market. .
In 1997 the European Union has launched several lifelong learning plans, but some countries don’t quickly understand the importance of the Community indications and some companies prefer to do them to those are already well qualified and occupy the administrative plans, increasing even more the skills gap compared to those with a lower degree.
In a special publication a few months ago, The Economist dealt with the issue of lifelong learning, summarising the theme: if training can not keep up with technology, the result is rise in inequality. Between those who have access to innovations and those who don’t, between those who know the customers preferences and who don’t, between those who are able to predict the future of a trade and those who sit in positions out of time.
A more skilled staff optimizes time and has easier access to new technological tools, with advantages for the company. And if the training becomes horizontal, from employee to employee, it also improves the integration between colleagues. An example is Unipedia, the online platform launched by Unieuro S.p.A. (“the largest Italian omni-channel distributor of consumer electronics and household appliances by number of outlets”, Wikipedia), that allows its employees to share information and curiosity, ask for advice, insert images or documents. A sort of e-learning that is therefore always available and feeds on interactions between employees.
But, in Italy, the situation changes if we consider small and medium-sized enterprises. The companies with fewer employees, that is the majority of the Italian business fabric, make less training, due to heavy investment in terms of cost and time that requires, but also for a certain historical reluctance to open up to change.
It means that firstly we need a cultural change about lifelong learning and we should be aware that it is indispensable and advantageous: for the companies, it is a profitable investment and for the workers, because any trade today comes to terms with innovation, digitalisation and globalization.