Learning: A lifelong pursuit

Why you should consider education later in life.


It’s no secret that society is changing across the developed world. Almost a decade ago The Economist predicted ‘the End of Retirement’: as living standards increase and we live longer, healthier and (hopefully) happier lives, birth rates remain low and governments raise the age of retirement or Superannuation eligibility, people are working considerably longer. New Zealand is no different: in less than 30 years’ time the population of over 65s is expected to be between 1.3 and 1.5 million, nearly 25% of the overall population, and by this point, the age of eligibility for Superannuation will be 67, if not higher.

240_f_168231328_fmb9qh7mra3fahake95zjze5emfjwml2Of course, the fact we’re all working longer presents a number of problems: on an individual level, for many of us retirement is an aspiration, if not a right, something we earn after decades of hard work and dedication; while on a structural level, with great technological changes and the rise of automation, many jobs are becoming superfluous. Throw in the fact that employers have traditionally had a tendency to discriminate against older employees or job applicants, and the End of Retirement probably doesn’t seem like a very appealing prospect to many.

Judith Davey, an academic at the Victoria University of Wellington, has argued there is a key solution to making longer working lives successful: further education and training in mid to later life. Davey quotes Peter Jarvis to illustrate her point:

“Today, no one can hope to amass during his or her youth an initial fund of knowledge which will serve for a lifetime. The swift changes taking place in the world call for knowledge to be continuously updated.”

Senior man with laptopOf course, many of us assume that education is something reserved for kids, teens and people in their early twenties – after that, you’re equipped for the world of work and you get on with it. Even if many of us weren’t raised to view learning this way, day-to-day pressures often make it hard to pursue education once you’ve started working full-time and have a family to look after. By the time you’re ready to retire and the kids have flown the nest, going back to school probably doesn’t appear to be an option.

But not only is it now an option that comes highly recommended from leading academics, it’s one that is increasingly easy to achieve: part-time learning, short courses and distance learning over the Internet all make studying later in life far more accessible and suitable for all needs – whether it’s studying Counselling for a later life career change, or Horticulture because it’s been a lifelong hobby you now have the time to pursue professionally. Finding the right course for you is also easier than ever before with sites like training.co.nz simplifying the search.

We all know the value of education, but why should it be restricted to early life – the opportunity to make learning a continuous pursuit is there, we just need to grasp it!


By Ben Conway from training.co.nz