If you want to remain competitive on the job or stand out when pursuing a new career, you need to stay on top of changes in your chosen field. If you aren’t learning continuously, you’ll soon fall behind. More employers are counting on employees to expand their knowledge and add to their toolbox of skills through interactive learning.

“New research estimates that by 2030, 25 percent of the tasks currently being done by humans will be automated or done differently,” notes Janice Cooke, Manager of Client Development and Learner Services at the University of Waterloo’s Centre for Extended Learning. “This means professionals will have to develop new skills to stay ahead and remain employable as their roles change.”

The University of Waterloo offers both credit and professional development courses, corporate training at client sites, and online course content to bolster their lifelong learning programming. “We support part-time and full-time students, and help adult learners, who are often balancing the demands of families and jobs, to navigate the system and find courses that will meet their needs,” says Cooke.

Expanding the classroom with online learning

The university acknowledges there can be barriers to lifelong learning— family responsibilities, career restraints, and cost— but is using technology to help reduce them and to encourage professionals to extend their learning into the later stages of their lives. “We continue to expand our online credit and non-credit course offerings, which means you don’t have to live in the community to take our courses or programs, and students have more flexibility in their schedules,” states Michael Hunt, Waterloo’s Associate Director of Professional Development.

In fact, the learning experience itself can give students of all ages and experiences a competitive advantage. “Working professionals taking our courses are able to offer unique insights, and younger students appreciate the knowledge they bring,” says Cooke. “They get to learn from one another and can gain insight into different industries and companies.”

Building strength through learning

The university is seeing more people continuing their education throughout their career, and beyond. Learning helps keep people healthy, fulfilled, and mentally agile. Continuing education is about much more than getting another piece of paper—there are a lot of soft skills that can be gained with upgrading your education including increased confidence, better leadership skills, and improved communication. It also demonstrates initiative in the workplace and can give you an edge over co-workers when a promotion is on the line.

Universities want to make learning as accessible and cost-effective as possible while offering a diversity of courses that prepare students for the future. Our changing world demands practical learning opportunities that can support career advancement and personal development. Learning doesn’t stop when you graduate— it should be a lifelong pursuit.