Survival of the Learning Fittest

For some years I have followed a little Wiki called “Shift Happens” (learn about the blog at http://shifthappens.wikispaces.com/, watch a recent video at http://youtu.be/XVQ1ULfQawk).  I follow this blog and video that keeps evolving because it keeps me humble every time I think I’m getting smarter.  I invite you to watch their more recent video to see what I’m talking about.  One statistic alone quite frankly frightens me every time I watch it.  According to the Department of Labor today’s learner will have 10-14 jobs by the age of 38.  Goodness gracious, that thought alone exhausts me every time it runs through my head.  I then tally up my job experiences since I was in college.  Not sure if I’ll be one of the statistics but I’m creeping close.  I’ve got four more years to go and the proof will be in my life career pudding.

So why do we all have to keep learning and changing jobs in today’s workplace?  Why can’t we just find that old fashioned manufacturing company where dad started after an apprenticeship at age 17 and retired at age 65 (but not a day later).  The reality is that this world is long gone. We are competing in a global marketplace.  Our American mindset is just a fraction of the mindset whole.  Do you realize that America is only about a third the size of China and India individually?  We are less than 1/20th of the world’s population.  Yes we have consumed the majority of wealth for decades, but that is slowly slipping. So, the hard reality is that for us to compete in the world today we need to start learning more, quickly, and applying creative knowledge to create new products and services and maintain our competitive edge.

For me this journey has meant that while I pursued my PHR (professional in HR) certificate a few years back after my four year degree was completed, I didn’t stop here.  As times changed I changed too.  I was charged with joining the implementation team for a 27-state wide EHS system rollout and I had to support as the division’s HR leader.  That meant I needed to learn about change management quickly.  So I did, and quickly.  In two healthcare organizations I was charged with greatly reducing the time to fill for the higher turnover healthcare support roles.  This was unchartered territory for me.  So I embraced the field of process improvement and studied six sigma and using the DMAIC process to change the recruiting process.  I could not have filled 300 jobs in the last four years if I didn’t learn those skills.  Fast forward to earlier this year and I was commissioned with doubling training in a 340 employee organization with a resource team of three.  This time I had to study the best LMS systems that existed for the best price and then study adult learning styles and create an environment where technology plus live training support could accomplish this. I’d say every year just to survive some crazy challenge presented before me I’ve added another certification, read another book, played in the sandbox of new technologies, met some new business professionals to learn from and network with, gone back to school for more education and so forth.  Pure survival.

So I’m curious to hear from all of you.  How is the world of rapid information exchange and faster development of new products changing your business?  How are you competing?  How do you teach your staff the new skill sets they use?  What approaches do you use — web learning, coaching and 1:1 learning, outside learning resources, etc.

I look forward to your responses!

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