I know the moment I realised my education might not fit the world of work. I was sitting in a beer garden after a final exam laughing with friends about how none of us could recall what we’d written in the exam hall hours earlier. We had held on to knowledge long enough to complete the paper, and then it left us…
Sitting around the wooden table in Edinburgh’s sunshine, I thought about how it might be a problem if a future boss ever asked me about International Relations, and I also wondered what the value of a degree was when the learning could escape so quickly.
But that didn’t stop me. I was good at passing exams, so I went on to study more. It seemed I had the knack. I attended lectures and tutorials, scribbled down notes, skimmed books, made a few mind maps, and ultimately learnt how to pass exams. It was challenging, sometimes stressful, but there was an art to passing exams and I had mastered it.
It wasn’t until I started teaching in universities that I fully appreciated the scale of the problem. Linking the dusty, slow paced world of academia to fast paced industries is the first challenge but then there’s the issue of knowledge retention. How can you recall information when nothing makes it memorable – when there’s no direct application? And how can people develop critical employability skills when learning takes place in lecture halls far removed from the real world? Perhaps most importantly, how can all types of learners succeed – not just those, like me, that simply mastered the art of passing exams.
To tackle some of this, I launched Bauer Academy. By taking learning inside the industry, Bauer Media provided a space to experiment with learning in the workplace. Ten years later, with over 25,000 learners and delivery now across 15 countries the results have been fascinating.
Bauer Academy proves work-based learning is the future. Continuous learning in the workplace ensures people from all background and at all career stages can reach their potential. And by generating more connections, knowledge sharing, and greater wellbeing, learning cultures also create high performing teams. And it gives businesses greater control over talent development, enabling them to futureproof their most important asset, their people. Learning in the workplace means companies can constantly reskill and upskill, without waiting for sluggish higher education to catch up.
Work-based learning isn’t a destination, it’s a journey. The pandemic clearly showed learning can evolve at speed and the next juggernaut to hit it will be A.I. Artificial Intelligence brings into sharp focus the need to double down on ethics in education, but it also allows educators to demand higher standards in learners work, with more focus on critical thinking, analysis, and creativity. In the future creativity may be achieved by crafting A.I. prompts rather than with brush strokes, but it’s creativity, nonetheless. A.I. will change the workplace and all learning within it – but when it comes to education, as the Bauer Academy shows, the road to success is always under construction.