This blog marks the first of a new content series designed to investigate the fundamental challenges – and opportunities – of tomorrow.

We’ll start off by exploring the future of learning, and, with the help of Capita’s experts – and some of the brightest minds in the industry – we’ll share perspectives on how we all need to evolve our approach to learning to adapt to our new digital-first world. 

We find ourselves on the cusp of a fourth industrial revolution. Intimidating as it may sound, it’s also immensely exciting: with the rapid pace of technological development, the future we face holds almost infinite possibilities. To get a clearer idea of what lies ahead of us, it’s worth taking a step back to look at some of the macro trends changing our world.

Perhaps of the greatest significance is that we’re living longer. To support longer lives, we’ll need to work not just longer, but differently. That doesn’t mean more of the same however: rather than starting in the education system, transitioning to work in the same industry for our whole careers, and then retiring, we’re far more likely to take career breaks, switch tracks, and reskill. For today’s workers, that requires a mindset that embraces the development of new skillsets, and the willingness to unlearn old ways and relearn new ones.

After all, what we learn at 8 and 18 won’t necessarily be relevant at 80. The rise of automation in particular means the work of the future will be vastly different: with automation taking over more and more of the repetitive, monotonous tasks we undertake, humans will be freer to focus on more creative careers and pathways, potentially creating new forms of value. The most important skills we need to develop, therefore, are human skills which stand the test of time, as well as those which broaden our horizons and expand our ability to learn – and keep on learning.

At this point, it’s worth noting that learning has had a bad rap. Whether it’s rows of formica desks in stuffy classrooms or memories of two-dimensional work training, many people see learning as a chore. But leading thinkers such as Charles Jennings of the 70:20:10 Institute have changed our perspective. Jenning’s hypothesises that only 10% of learning is this kind of structured, formal process-based learning you might undertake on your own, with 20% coming from interactions that take place socially, and around 70% coming from our own life experiences or learning-by-doing.

It’s this emphasis on experiential life-long learning that will be crucial in the future. Trial, error, and experimentation are fundamental pillars of learning. In fact, some of the brightest minds in human history – whether it’s Benjamin Franklin and his kite, or Isaac Newton and the apple – cut their path by working around the rules rather than following them. Whatever your age, curiosity is a priceless skill to have – giving us the tools to learn for life, stand the test of time, and be prepared for anything the future may hold.

At Capita, we don’t have a silver bullet to fix the complex challenges faced by both individuals and organisations in the future. But by exploring different perspectives and asking the right questions, we can come up with better solutions to help shape the direction of learning – and hopefully encourage everyone to become a student for life.