11 Oct 2016

Taking Charge of Your Learning Journey

By Faith Sudharman-Chan, ROHEI

When I was a teenager, I used to think that my aim in life was to get a good “education” – go to university and graduate with flying colours – so that I could secure a well-paying job and climb up the corporate ladder. When I started working, however, I realized that the real learning had only just begun. Whatever knowledge I had acquired in school was not adequate in enabling me to be fully competent in my job. I needed to learn more, and the road will be long, but nevertheless I pursued my journey of lifelong learning.

Fast forward two decades more to the present, and having worked as a professional in the first ten years and as a lecturer/trainer in the latter ten, I have come to the conclusion that when it comes to life in its totality, I still need to keep my L-plates on. I must never stop learning; in fact, I should be proactive and take charge of my own learning. Here are three compelling reasons why:

“Once You Stop Learning, You Start Dying”
Albert Einstein, the late German-born Jewish physicist who developed the general theory of relativity, famously spoke these words. Even before neurological studies confirmed it, he could tell that we are all wired for lifelong learning. When there is no more intake of new ideas/information, or when we stop progressing in our cognitive understanding, we essentially place one foot in the grave. Einstein equated learning to living.

In 2014, I went back to “school”. I took advantage of the heavily subsidized scheme offered by the government to enrol myself in the Advanced Certification for Training and Assessment (ACTA) course. I only forked out about 10% of the total cost. At that juncture, I had been a trainer for some years and desired to be more competent in my job. At the end of the course, I gained more than the paper qualification. My life has been so much more enriched by the interactions with my trainers and fellow participants who brought with them diverse knowledge, experiences and perspectives to that learning space.

If We Don’t No One Will Take Charge of Our Learning
Learning does not happen by osmosis. Just because we live in a society like Singapore, where education and information is made available and generally affordable, we can’t assume that we are learning or improving simply by being in that environment.

We have to want to learn – to acquire information or skill – because no one else is able to will us into it or take on that responsibility on our behalf. It is one of the traits that sets us apart from other living things. And by acquiring information or skill, it is not merely to possess the head knowledge but to allow it to transform our mind, attitude, behaviour and way of life, for the betterment of ourselves and for the good of society.

There is No Better Time than Now
In the past couple of years, the Singapore government has been actively promoting lifelong learning and workplace skills. It is for this reason that the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) was conceived to help workers of all levels and ages advance in their careers and lives by developing and strengthening skills-based training.

The SkillsFuture Council was set up last year, its key message being “You can own a better future with skills mastery and lifelong learning”. In essence, it is putting the responsibility of lifelong learning on the workforce so that we can be future ready. As announced, each Singapore citizen aged 25 and above received 500 Singapore dollars’ worth of free SkillsFuture credit at the end of January to help kick-start the lifelong learning journey, especially for those who have yet to embark on it. I don’t know of any other country that invests so much money and effort in skills training and development per capita. Hence it is our responsibility to leverage on what is generously offered to hone our life skills and professional capabilities.

If you are looking for some training courses to kickstart your learning journey, hop on over here for some inspiration!