The 4 pillars of lifelong learning


"Many of today's skills won't match tomorrow's jobs." So how do we prepare for the future of work? By adopting the practice of lifelong learning.

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) lifelong learning is the only way to meet the challenges presented by technological advances and other global mega trends.

It is also listed as a priority on the United Nations agenda for sustainable development.

Lifelong learning can take place in both a formal or informal setting, however there are certain stages that most aspiring students will pass through on their learning journey.

Basic education

A basic education lays the foundation for learning later in life. This is where skills such as numeracy and literacy are first developed. Without a basic education individuals are hampered from moving to the next phase of learning.

Higher Education

Sometimes called further studies, a higher education is often the next step for students after they have received a basic education and have graduated from school. This phase of learning is more specific as it sets individuals on a career path.


Upskilling is the act of upgrading old skills to meet new workplace demands. This happens when professionals who already have industry experience want to add to their current skill set, typically through a short term or part time learning programme.


Reskilling takes place when individuals acquire a completely different set of skills. For example employees who have been retrenched or desire a career change will choose to get reskilled in another area of work.

Lifelong learners are not bound to complete these learning phases in a particular order. Rather a lifelong learner is someone who is committed to continuously learning and filling in the gaps that are missing in their personal development.

According to ILO "skills acquired today may quickly become obsolete." Therefore continuous learning is no longer optional, but a necessary part of ensuring employability.

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