LIFELONG LEARNING AT WORKPLACE
- Posted by: S.Pungkulali
- Category: [email protected]
huó dào lǎo, xué dào lǎo.
Those who do not have Mandarin language knowledge will wonder the meaning of the above statement.
Equivalent idiom in English carrying similar meaning is “One is never too old to learn”. It is also prevalent among Malaysians to refer to a Malay idiom “Tuntutlah ilmu walau ke negeri Cina”. Existence of such idiom in our society confirms the cultural inclination towards the education.
For the past 20 years, the world has seen unprecedented development in science and technology spearheading the 4th industrial revolutions (Industry 4.0).
This phenomenon has caused major institutions around the world to recognise inadequacy or incompatibility of the existing educational model due to rapidly developing or changing industry or economic sector. For instance, International Labour Organisation (ILO) has come up with a paper proposing Lifelong Learning: Concept, Issues and Actions for its member states to implement the concept of lifelong learning to remain economically competitive in the modern era.
In a nutshell, one can loosely define the meaning of lifelong learning (LLL) as a process to continue learning throughout the life. According to Dictionary.com, LLL is defined as
“the provision or use of both formal and informal learning opportunities throughout people’s lives in order to foster the continuous development and improvement of the knowledge and skills needed for employment and personal fulfilment”.
A comprehensive definition of LLL is currently adopted by European Commission and it reads “all purposeful learning activity undertaken throughout life with the aim of improving knowledge, skills and competencies within a personal, civic, social and/or employment related perspective”.
As such to stay competitive in the modern era, our Malaysian Government has recognised the importance of LLL and initiated various initiatives such as Blueprint on Enculturation of Lifelong Learning for Malaysia 2011-2020 (the Blueprint). Based on the Blueprint, there are many areas of challenges have been identified to fully implement LLL. Briefly, these challenges are listed as follows:
i) Absence of a fully-fledged LLL policy: LLL has not been integrated into the national education agenda.
ii) Lack of monitoring: there is no central body that coordinates and evaluates LLL activities.
iii) Lack of awareness and participation to develop self-potential and improve productivity.
iv) Inadequate financial support: funding schemes are only made available for formal education, tax incentives are minimal.
v) Inadequate mechanisms and infrastructure hinder equal access to LLL for all.
vi) Overlapping LLL activities and programmes lead to inefficiencies in the utilization of public funds; and
vii) Recognition issues: the Malaysian qualifications framework does not fully recognize non-formal education.
Even though there are many challenges, but drastic change of mind-set is required among the government and private sectors to encourage and develop sustainable and long-lasting LLL among its employees/workers.
An example of such perspective can be adopted from the Germany’s experience in encouraging LLL. One of the unique corporate culture implemented by the German companies are the apprenticeship programs based on longer-term benefits towards companies and society at large and not shot term aspects of return of investment (ROI). Further, in Germany, companies see the apprenticeship programs not as a corporate social responsibility (CSR) but as an integral aspect of its institution to safeguard supply of talents.
Such a shift of mind-set is important to realise the full potential of LLL to reap its benefits in a longer term both for the institutions and employees/workforce.
Be that as it may, since Malaysia is relatively a small economy, corporate institutions can empower its employees/workforce by implementing sectoral based LLL approach for those facing funding issues. For instance, few corporate entities involved in a same or similar or related sector can work together to conduct common trainings for their respective employees/workers. These trainings can be conducted by collaborating with public or private educational/vocational institutions. Such initiatives will greatly reduce the costs and financial impact on each collaborating institution.
In Malaysia, a shining example of LLL ecosystem is currently provided by KPJ Healthcare Bhd (KPJ). For instance, KPJ among others has developed its own in-house program called Executive Development Programme (EDP) for its staff and employees to enhance their knowledge and skills. In fact, I am one of the beneficiaries who greatly benefited from the EDP.
Besides the above, KPJ also have founded its own university college, KPJ Healthcare University College (KPJCU) to facilitate, prepare and groom future specialist doctors, pharmacists, nurses, and healthcare managers. This far-sighted approach by KPJ has guaranteed supply of talented and skilled workforce.
Be it as it may, I am of the opinion, government and private sectors should enhance their position to facilitate LLL by having an integrated compulsory continuing professional development programs (CPD) for its employees/workforce as part of key performance indicator (KPI). Such CPD and KPI can be used as a tool for appraisal or assessment of its employees/workforce.
Sooner or later, LLL will be part and parcel of everyone’s life. As such, early adaptation, and willingness to embrace LLL is important for both employees/workforce, corporations to remain relevant in rapidly changing economy and to remain competitive in a long run.
KPJ Klang Specialist Hospital
 What is the fourth industrial revolution? World Economic Forum. By Nicholas Davis https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/what-is-the-fourth-industrial-revolution/
The basic premise of lifelong learning is that it is not feasible to equip learners at school, college, or university with all the knowledge and skills they need to prosper throughout their lifetimes. Therefore, people will need continually to enhance their knowledge and skills, in order to address immediate problems and to participate in a process of continuous vocational and professional development. The new educational imperative is to empower people to manage their own learning in a variety of contexts throughout their lifetimes (Sharples, 2000, p. 178; see also Bentley, 1998).https://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195390483.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780195390483-e-001
 The executive branch or the European.
Lifelong Learning: Meaning, Challenges, and Opportunities by Colin Nelson Power and Rupert Maclean. Skills Development for Inclusive and Sustainable Growth in Developing Asia-Pacific, Technical and Vocational Education and Training: Issues, Concerns and Prospects 19, Asian Development Bank 2013 Editors Rupert Maclean, Shanti Jagannathan and Jouko Sarvi at page 30.
 Enculturation of Lifelong Learning: Perspectives from the New Economic Model by Guan Eng Chan, Latifah Abdol Latif, Ramli Bahroom. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/265220815_Enculturation_of_Lifelong_Learning_Perspectives_from_the_New_Economic_Model_Enculturation_of_Lifelong_Learning_Perspectives_from_the_New_Economic_Model
 Why Germany Is So Much Better at Training Its Workers by Tamar Jacob by
 Learning while Working – Success stories on workplace learning in Europe Publications Office of the European Union, 201. https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/3060_en.pdf
Home-KPJ Healthcare University College (kpjuc.edu.my)