The importance of lifewide learning in post-pandemic careers

postgraduate study
© Nirat Makjuntuk

As the working world is changing forever, Nicola Urquhart, Lecturer in Careers and Employability at the University of Kent, explains in National Careers Week why postgraduate study is the key to future professional development

One year ago, as lockdown was first introduced, there were many proponents of postgraduate study as an option for those able to find the time to apply themselves to further development, considering the benefits of “lifelong learning”.

12 months later, the world has adapted and those fortunate to be able to work from home have surpassed surviving and begun to thrive. This same positivity is mirrored in the perception of postgraduate learning too, but with the lessons of 2020’s lockdown informing our enthusiasm.

Lifewide learning

The old concept of lifelong learning has been replaced with ‘lifewide’ learning which acknowledges that we learn through all the different roles, experiences and environments we inhabit. Lifewide learning also invites us to consider learning, and the need for upskilling, as non-linear and predictable and instead more responsive to the changes that are happening around us. In light of the pandemic and the many changes this has brought to all aspects of peoples’ lives employees are harnessing these experience to diversify and broaden their professional portfolio.

Harnessing postgraduate education gives the opportunity not only to learn the skills in demand but also to experience facets of other roles and even other sectors. Many courses are curated in collaboration with sector giants, as well as regional and national businesses, both responding to the need for workers to possess the skills that align with tomorrow’s demand, making them functionally futureproof.

However, it is not just the need to ensure workers are sufficiently secure in their skills, but it also recognised by recruitment and HR departments throughout sectors that to attract and retain the best talent will require the promise of diversification and paths to opportunities in other roles.

This works to the benefit of both employer and employee. No employee would accept a job role early in their career with the assumption they would remain there until retirement, and employers don’t hire who someone is in an interview, they hire who that someone could become.


The pandemic at first blurred the lines between work and life, but this early blurring gave way to a clarity of perception into one’s own career and life ambitions. This in turn has prompted reflection as to how daily work benefits those goals. Our careers have always been seen as a vital part of who we are, and now the blend has reconfigured to encourage employees to pursue the career that suits them, rather than fitting themselves into the career.

Postgraduate study allows us to explore and try on new professional identities which reflect more the person we are now and becoming than who we were pre lockdown. Alongside the individual benefits, Postgraduate learning is an economic and sociological tool that is vital to the economic workforce and their ambitions.

As we emerge from lockdown with all the possibilities this brings for the individual and the economy, postgraduate study will play a vital role in helping create and shape the workforce, a workforce that is ready for the challenges of the post-pandemic workplace.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here