The New Requirements of Learners (riff on a conversation with Stephen Downes)
Adult learners, think about this:
You are the only one responsible to know yourself when it comes to learning. Know your skills, your strengths, your weaknesses about a new thing you are trying to learn. If you want to learn, you are required to participate in the activity of learning, go, search, find, analyze, write, organize, do – find others. Don’t wait for someone to spoon feed you, your parents to pay for it, a bank to loan you the money, or your employer to train you on what they need you to know.
You are responsible to find other learners interested in what you’re trying to learn. In groups (learning communities) you must find peers willing to look over your work and provide you with positive critical feedback. You must find good examples of other work, bad examples of other work, and become an effective critical thinker. You help others, others help you, learning takes place in communities, and the end product is always higher quality than if you did it alone. You will develop trustworthy peers if you do this. You will develop networks of people you would like to work with, or for, and people you would hire.
You need to address the problem of your learning yourself. It’s your brain, your time. You should not wait for colleges or universities or governments to tell you what to learn. You’re the one who is going to have to do the work, the heavy lifting of learning. Is your time worth money? You need to make sure that what you’re spending your time learning is what you want (motivation), and what you need (you have assessed what you already know and are filling in the gaps to learn something new). You should not waste your own time, or let others waste it for you.
Don’t know what you want to do? Take a look at the predictions about looming labour shortages and pick something that attracts your interest. It’s not very likely that will be where you end up, but if you need an income, it’s a good start. Get enough experience in it and you can teach others and keep filling the labour gap in Canada until it’s filled. Once you have experience and skills you have more choices.
What tools do you need? What advice do you need? How can you hook up with a group of learners, or learning that’s low cost or no cost, to learn what you need to learn for whatever it is you want to do? Go and find out.
How can you convince an employer that you will be the good worker they need? Go and find out.
You need to find a way to send your message to employers, that you’re not willing to go into debt to satisfy optical character recognition software’s preliminary resume scans. Tell them to hire you for your values, your commitment, your work ethic, your talents and abilities, your experience, and not for how much you spent at a higher education institution. Tell them to train you, promote you, let you train others, let you effect change to better the organization, and see if you turn out to be a loyal and dedicated employee.
Employers, think about this:
Accreditation is not always worth the paper it’s printed on. Just because a person has a degree in marketing, does that mean they know how to market effectively for your specific organization? Are you going to train them to do what you need them to do? What are the real and basic skills you need them to have? Stop requiring needless accreditation as a hiring screen. Hire people you like, who agree with your values and mission and train them on the job. If you’re worried that they’ll leave with the valuable skills you gave them, make sure you’re the kind of employer they want to stay with.
Your values need to change to accommodate a global shift in learning and training on the job and, in general, about who you are as an organization. If you are worried about the looming labour shortage, you need to get involved rather than waiting for your government or higher education to solve this problem for you, at great cost to the learners, who are going to be your unhappy employees if they’ve sold their shirt to get an education it turns out they don’t need in order to work for you.
You need to connect your employees to each other and help provide them with quality learning resources, and build a real and effective learning community within your organization. Because learning is more effective in real and trusted communities, and the quality of the work you get from connected workers is ten times that of workers in silos. Believe it.
People without jobs. Jobs without people.
Solved. Learners, employers, get to it.