Published here August 2023


Musings Index

Why Continuous Learning Is Vital for Better Project Management
Max Wideman presents a contribution by author Anila Scott

Continuous education from birth to death and a career spanning many years in various professional fields is a new reality in the 21st century. Like so many other ideas in human history, the concept of lifelong education for better project management has gone through the stages of birth, rejection, and hype around it. Here are some reasons why continuous learning is vital to better project management.

Life on average has become much longer, and careers are longer
Today, lifelong education is a conscious everyday life of a modern person and a part of the working process of companies. Project management for decades can hardly be built on the same starting educational baggage and take place in the same professional track. Forks and possible changes in the professional scenario are tied to different stages of career and age maturity, to personal circumstances. But turns at these forks are impossible without a new formation.

For now, lifelong education is still perceived as a superstructure — additional training in the basic one is lacking. But in the new economy, education is fundamentally understood as incomplete. This becomes the primary driver of a career and a prerequisite for multiple professional scenarios throughout life. This determines the main change in today's time — the request for customization of project management. The set of competencies explicitly required for you is no longer chosen by an educational institution but by every one for himself.

Learning for a lifetime
Adults learn best through so-called project-problem approaches. In teaching project management, problems are considered and discussed based on new knowledge and previous experience, which in no case should be discarded; it is a reasonable basis for further development. The academic market is opening up for beginners who develop new solutions.

Are colleges and business schools meeting the demand for continuing education? Will they be able to respond to employers' need for new staff? Who will teach professions that do not yet exist? It seems that only adaptive educational models will survive under the new conditions. Competition is growing.

Education of the future
Where traditional institutions fail, online education can help. All kinds of online training videos and courses; such as PMP training on line as well as entire online schools and colleges, offer a wide variety of materials. This includes the ability to study at your own pace from anywhere in the world. Some classical institutions also offer distance programs.

However, learning online is probably not a bad idea, because the future is more likely to be a combination of online and offline classes. The result of the new education today is not the volume of learned and memorized material on project management, but the development of cognitive abilities. That includes the ability to analyze, work with information, think critically, solve problems, and implement creative and innovative ideas.

Investing in yourself
Modern education is not a question of a diploma on the wall in an office: "crusts" no longer add relevance to either the corporation or the industry. Skills, the ability to develop oneself continuously, and a new, wider circle of contacts — these components together serve as a multiplier for the return on personal investment in one's own education. Investing in self-development is a necessity, not an exclusive that some can afford and others cannot.

Final Words
Modern education also means inclusion in new professional circles, the development of new contacts, new social capital. That is different from the one that a person possessed when he was stewing for a long time in the same professional or industry niche. The wider and more diverse the social capital and the circle of contacts, the more new opportunities for development open up for a person. Continuous education in project management and communication in various professional groups enables a person at any career or age stage to expand his or her horizons. Or otherwise invent and implement a new approach, sometimes as a result of a chance encounter.

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