How to Learn Reskilling

Reskilling is your ability to learn new skills.

Learning how to learn is the single most valuable piece of education you can receive. Unfortunately, this is the polar opposite of the factory model educational system the vast majority of us have been exposed to.

Factories used to be a reliable source of employment with a guaranteed pension to take care of our retirement. As these jobs were highly desirable, we designed our education system such that we were prepared for factory jobs starting from a young age. Factory jobs were broken into roles, and those roles were interchangeable. The job these roles did also did not vary from year to year, so the only requirement was for you to learn the specific set of steps needed for your role. A good way to test that you memorized these steps were to issue a standardized test – after all, every role was the same with the same set of steps, so grading everyone the same way made sense.

Today the factory jobs are gone, yet our education system remains the same. We did not learn how to learn: we learned how to take standardized tests to prepare us for static roles with an unchanging sequence of steps to be memorized.

Today jobs are not static. The very definition of a role can change yearly, and the work you are required to do in that role can change daily. If we were taught how to learn, rather than memorize, this would not be a dire situation. As it stands, a workforce that is being left behind by technology-driven change is one of the most intractable problems modern societies face.

There are far more open positions than there are people to fill them. This is because these new positions require anything from basic to advanced knowledge of technology. This is especially true of the best jobs, where only the most skilled workers have a hope of passing an interview. For the rest of the population who desire these jobs, because we were not taught to learn, the choice is clear: we must teach ourselves how to teach ourselves.

We all possess the ability to teach ourselves new things, but we are conditioned to think that the only worthwhile learning is conducted in a classroom. Further, we are taught that the goal of education is to receive a frameable piece of paper, not to actually learn anything of value. To be able to educate ourselves, we first have to embrace the idea that to learn, we must not use the obsolete education practices of the industrial era. Only then are we free to start the process of learning that should never end – and most certainly never end once receiving a frameable piece of paper.

The world has changed. The internet and mobile computing have granted everyone in developed countries access to a nearly limitless supply of self-education materials. Anything that can be taught in a classroom can be learned from anywhere at any time. Indeed, many universities are putting their courses online for free, making attending college unnecessary if the goal was to participate in the same classes.

Even more astonishing, the competition to create the best and most engaging online content has created entirely new styles of educational materials to meet practically every learning style. A fast search online will yield not just one way to learn a new skill, but hundreds. Your only challenge is to find the style of education that you prefer the most. Some prefer the structure of courses and assessments, some prefer entertaining videos by compelling presenters, some still prefer hours of endless reading material to review. The options are vast and available to all.

There are no excuses any more that can stop you from learning new skills. Should you have any free time whatsoever, and a device connected to the internet, the vast majority of human knowledge is available to you in a wide array of formats optimized for your consumption. If you feel as if your skills are stagnant, there is no use in blaming our old education system. At this point in human history, there is no one to blame but you.

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