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Shaping the Pursuit of a Career-Focused Continued Education

The future of higher education lies in continued education, helping learners acquire new skills and earn credentials to stay relevant in the job market and gain upward mobility.

Deciding to return to school as an adult can be life-changing. Working professionals, no matter at what stage in their career, their current role or their industry, may arrive at a point where they view continuing their education as a viable option or necessary for further growth or advancement, upward mobility or job security.

In today’s rapidly evolving economy, continued education has become imperative for achieving career success. Technological innovations, industry shifts and new practices mean that the learning process never ends. For instance, LinkedIn’s 2023 Workplace Report found that skill sets for jobs have changed by 25% since 2015 with the number expected to double by 2027.

To avoid career obsolescence and open new opportunities, professionals must actively pursue new skills and knowledge. For many, this reality means returning to school to further their career by obtaining a certification, bachelor’s or master’s degree, or some other credential. And while continued education offers enriching benefits, it also presents substantial challenges, especially for adult learners. But with the right mindset and resources, they can overcome their obstacles to see the return on their time and investment.

Here are several critical factors to keep in mind when shaping one’s pursuit of a career-focused continued education:

Find the Right Balance and Flexibility that Suit Needs

Adult learners often need to balance work, family and other personal obligations with their academic commitments. Continuing education requires a constant balance of work and life responsibilities with learning time, which is why adult learners should look for institutions and programs that offer the flexibility and support that suit their needs.

For instance, at DeVry, we serve many nontraditional learners who balance their pursuit of an education with family, work and other personal commitments. In our unwavering commitment to learner success, we offer personalized support and comprehensive resources, including 24/7 tutoring, mental health assistance, virtual peer communities and more. Embedded within our culture of care, we ensure every student feels connected and fully supported with flexibility in mind.

Choose a Path That Aligns Objectives, Goals and Credentials

Furthermore, continued education is a big investment in one’s future, demanding time, money and dedication to pursue a degree or new career training. Therefore choosing an education provider that offers the credentials that will help achieve career goals is also critical. Learners should identify their objectives early on to determine the type of program, specialization or credentials to pursue and thoroughly research educational pathways. The key is choosing a path that aligns with one’s objectives and career goals.

Additionally, financing education can be an obstacle for many adults. The cost of tuition, books and reduced work hours can strain budgets. Learners should explore available funding options such as tuition reimbursement, scholarships, grants and state loan assistance programs.

Understand How Technology Impacts Industries, Talent Needs and Skills

Many adults returning to school experience anxiety over using new learning platforms and software. They should look for programs that provide resources to help them get up to speed with the tools and skills they need to succeed. While technology is transforming many jobs and tasks, the human workforce continues to provide value that AI and automation cannot. Learners would do well to focus on developing skills and capabilities that harness their uniquely human strengths.

With a learning mindset and the right blend of technical and human skills, learners can ensure their talent remains in high demand, no matter how much their industries transform. The key is staying flexible, adaptable and ready to grow as needed. Digital transformation may be reshaping many industries, but understanding its impact on talent needs allows learners to ensure their skills and value remain positioned for success.

Know That Continued Learning Drives Upward Mobility and Stability

Pursuing continued education and skills training helps professionals adapt to shifts in the job market, gain new opportunities and achieve upward mobility. Learning a new skill or obtaining an advanced certification can open doors to higher-paying jobs. Lightcast research shows that adult learners who return to college are 22% likelier to achieve upward mobility and earn annual salaries 140% greater than peers who don’t.

Continuous learning also provides a safety net during economic downturns. Workers with up-to-date knowledge and versatile skill sets are less likely to face job loss or pay cuts. They can more easily pivot into new roles as needed. No doubt, continuous learning in all its forms is the key to success, fulfillment and stability in today’s rapidly evolving, technology-driven society.