By 2022 – in just one year – more than 40% of core skills required to perform existing jobs are expected to change, as estimated by the World Economic Forum in their recent call for a “global reskilling revolution”. This fundamental evolution in the future of work is the result of the unprecedented technological transformation that we have witnessed over the last decade - and that has accelerated since the beginning of the global pandemic.
In recent years, governments across the globe have already been making substantial efforts to tackle this issue by promoting a work-based, experiential learning approach via a dual education system, which increases employability by constantly adapting to the industry’s fast changing needs. But attending a one-off training program aged 20 will not be enough to stay ahead through a forty- or fifty-year career. The same fast-increasing need for an improved approach also applies to professional development, or lifelong learning.
While many academic institutions are moving quickly and continually to update their curriculums to changing work environments, the same needs to happen to lifelong learning systems. Therefore, those institutions that understand the fundamentals and opportunity of experiential learning today and at every step of a professional career, will be the leaders in providing lifelong education products that work.
At EHL, we have long worked closely in partnership with employers to ensure our students receive experiential training designed for their future careers. This partnership has never been more important than it is today as we look into new ways to bring this expertise to ensure experienced professionals can also continually upskill to remain relevant in an ever-changing workplace.
"We need to replenish skills throughout a working career, and this calls for revisiting the models and concept of lifelong learning to create the future we want." - Guy Ryder, Director General, International Labor Organization
The necessity to rethink lifelong education
This is not new: creating a learning culture within an organization is the only way to remain competitive in today’s global marketplace. Also, it has a direct positive impact on employees’ satisfaction and retention. Improving performance, innovating and being able to adapt to an ever-changing environment is the kind of agility that companies expect from their staff, but employees also find it necessary – and rewarding - to continuously update their knowledge and skills as new technologies and trends become available.
Of course, lifelong learning is by far not a new idea. As a matter of fact, the European Commission and its members have been reflecting on it for decades, stressing the importance of having governments promote an ongoing basis system training citizens for skills and knowledge required on the labor market.
Considering the necessity for a reskilling revolution, lifelong learning must go through its transformation – not only for employers to remain competitive, but also to remain attractive to new generations of employees.
No more distinction between “school” and “continuous” education
Millennials, or “Generation Y” - people born approximately between the mid-80s and the mid-90s - will be the largest share of the global workforce by 2030. This generation has understood that they will not have the same job for life and that they will probably work longer before retirement than generation X and baby boomers. For them, there is no such thing as the distinction between school education and continuous education, there is just one thing: lifelong learning.
Online certificates, professional development online courses, hybrid (face-to-face and online) bachelor, master or Executive MBA degrees, as well as massive open online courses (MOOCs) are some examples of the wide range of online learning possibilities that exist today. During the first global lockdown in 2020, MOOC enrollment figures have seen exponential growth, and this is not only due to free catalog access given to individuals, but to the time people want to invest in their career development.
When experiential learning feeds lifelong learning
So, what makes a good lifelong learning approach? For me, the answer is simple. Experiential learning. The skills developed in the provision of the same interactive, hands-on, dual educational approach which increases employability for students will also help professionals be successful in continuing their education while employed.
The implication is clear: the institutions that master the art of experiential learning will be those who lead the way to smart and efficient lifelong learning solutions in the future.
EHL’s expertise in lifelong learning
The Covid-19 pandemic has increased interest in online education and has fast-tracked remote learning in the education industry. Now, there are more solutions than ever before for students to follow a lifelong e-learning approach. While some believe that the rapid move to online learning due to the pandemic will have only negative consequences, others – including EHL - believe that the unexpected situation was a key driver of change that helped a hybrid model of education to emerge without adversely affecting users' experience.
At EHL, some projects from our online education strategy, which were planned for 2024, were already delivered in 2020. A concrete example is the EHL Hyflex learning model that is a hybrid learning model offering flexibility between the physical and digital worlds. Hyflex is not a new technology: it was created by the San Francisco State University in 2005. But its relevance became even more clear since academic institutions around the globe had to move to remote teaching at the beginning of 2020.
For us, this model was the perfect application of our century-old expertise in dual education – adapted to the needs of this new reality. Hyflex was part of a set of measures that were actioned early 2020 as part of a long-term strategy that was in the making for several years but accelerated in response to the pandemic. This proven model will lead to the creation of a totally virtual campus dedicated to the principal of lifelong learning. The EHL virtual campus is a new pedagogical offshoot in the pipeline, which aims to rethink our current curriculum, widening the spectrum of our hospitality education offering to a greater selection of students online. The plan is to create “real virtual classes” that will be “as real as possible and as virtual as necessary” to paraphrase a famous quote from the Swiss health minister, Alain Berset.
The EHL virtual campus’ solutions will open a vast range of content opportunities for continuous education. Our expertise in providing an education where applied sciences and theory are deeply intertwined will be adapted to new technologies.
EHL and the industry: together for a new lifelong education
While public policies on the lifelong learning system are needed so that everyone can acquire skills that allow a successful integration and transition in the labor market, education institutions are not the only ones that ought to lead the way. Companies can also seize the opportunity to ensure that no one is left behind by recreating the career development process of their employees and adjusting it to the concept of lifelong learning. Considering that training and retraining current employees is more cost-efficient than hiring new ones, employers should perhaps also rethink how hours are spent during the workday to allocate time for employees to be on a “continuous learner” mode. Companies such as Google, that allow employees to use 20% of their time for personal interest projects with a professional relevance, have shown the way.
At EHL we recently launched the “EHL Talent Academy” aiming to support and develop young EHL employees in the professional world of hospitality management. The program serves as an internal exchange platform, allowing these young talents to learn more about other colleagues while working in small groups on strategic cross-functional projects allocated by EHL. Upon completion of the program, participants receive a "Certificate of Completion of the EHL Talent Academy" and the overall winner is offered a management training course (worth approximately CHF 25,000) at a leading institution of his/her choice.
EHL looks forward to continuing its long tradition of exchanges with industry, not only to train tomorrow's leaders through efficient experiential learning, but also to ensure that they remain so for as long as possible in our changing world.