In the world of EdTech, there is one segment that is experiencing a dramatic rise in relevance: continuing education. Research from A2Z Market Research suggests that the revenue from the global continuing education market is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 12% over the 2023-2030 period.
Continuing education refers to self-initiated education beyond traditional higher ed, which is in addition to any company-initiated programs that are present in medium and large corporations. This is especially relevant when one considers the current skills shortage that we’re seeing around the world, with 88% of employers finding it difficult to secure employees with the skills that they need.
More and more people are engaging in continuing education to upskill themselves and enhance their career prospects, while also investing in their own personal and professional development. In this article, we’re going to explore what this all means, what the latest trends are, and how this industry sector is shaping up for the next few years.
What are the Benefits of Continuing Education?
To understand the future prospects of the industry, it’s worth examining some of the underlying benefits that have been driving its rapid growth.
To succeed in the modern business environment requires tremendous adaptability and proactive skill acquisition. The world is moving so fast that workers need to be at the forefront of new innovation if they are to make themselves invaluable to the organizations they work in. Employees also feel the pressure of competing with new entrants into the workforce who arrive with highly relevant and sought-after skills. Continuing education goes a long way to securing long-term job security because it allows people to shape their own career paths intelligently, aligned with where the professional world is going.
Being open to lifelong learning also means that employees don’t have to be stuck in a single career path for their whole life. By engaging in self-directed education outside of a comfort zone, people can gain the skills and confidence to branch out and tackle new opportunities, if they so choose.
Improves Soft Skills
Continuing education is also a great way to improve softer skills that don’t typically get the attention they deserve in a formal and structured way. These can include public speaking, goal-setting, time management, problem-solving, critical thinking, articulation, communication, and so much more. Any time spent improving these key meta-skills will have a positive knock-on effect on someone’s career.
Keeps You Mentally Sharp
Continuing education can be considered a gym for the brain because it helps to maintain cognitive endurance and health. Too often, people get stuck in ruts because they are operating on auto-pilot without truly engaging their brains. By pushing themselves to learn continuously, they can fight against this entropy and drive toward better results over the long term.
Continuing education often provides employees with the opportunity to meet new people who might have different contexts, backgrounds, and ideas to share. By engaging meaningfully in creating these relationships, this helps them to grow as a person, expand their career network, and reap the benefits of those wider perspectives as they move forward along their path.
Sometimes the novelty of continuing education is the perfect antidote to boredom and a lack of inspiration that can occur when someone is doing the same thing year after year. By pushing themselves to learn something new, it can spark their intellect and renew their motivation to develop into high performers. In addition, it’s almost uncanny to see how new learnings from parallel endeavors can generate new ideas for the current job.
These are just a few of the benefits of continuing education, and it’s clear that it can be a superpower for a robust and future-proof career.
What are the Trends That We’re Seeing in Continuing Education?
Let’s now look at some of the most significant trends both inside and outside the industry that are accelerating the growth here:
1. Online learning is maturing
There’s been a dramatic shift in how education is viewed thanks to the emergence of online learning – and that is not slowing down. The democratization of knowledge and skill acquisition thanks to the internet continues to play a big role in the space, and as the technology matures, so do the potential use cases for effective continuing education.
2. COVID-19 has significantly disrupted career paths
It’s almost trite to say it at this point, but the pandemic was a serious disrupter to the workforce as we knew it. The mental, psychological, and economic impact caused a lot of people to reconsider whether they were in the right career, and many chose to use this natural stopping point to get out of their current situation and seek new opportunities. This relies on effective continuing education to equip them with what they need to make these shifts successfully.
3. Continuing education is more accessible than ever
As the industry has grown and expanded, the barriers to entry have come down significantly – making this sort of learning more accessible to all. These include reduced cost, internet-enabled remote learning, AI-assisted personalization, and much more.
4. Personalization is emerging as the next frontier of quality education
Everyone learns at their own pace and struggles with different subjects, but in a group environment, the instructor cannot always teach effectively to each unique person. Thanks to scalable technology and AI, continuing education can now be highly personalized, taking into account what an individual needs and sculpting the learning experience accordingly.
5. Collaboration with the wider ecosystem is more crucial than ever
The education industry and surrounding ecosystem have been strengthened by the growth of continuing education, and it’s clear that collaboration between key players is the best way to make a real impact on the people that the industry aims to serve. By sharing resources, best practices, and technological innovation – it’s a win-win scenario where everyone can benefit.
6. There is an emerging generational gap in terms of skills
With technology shifting so quickly, there has emerged a non-trivial gap between the older generations who grew up before this technology was mainstream and the new generations who have been immersed in it their whole lives. This makes it all the more important that continuing education helps to upskill those people who need the support so that they can remain relevant in a highly competitive work environment.
7. Upskilling and reskilling are becoming non-negotiable
It’s now common wisdom that upskilling and reskilling during a career is not a nice-to-have, but a requirement for a robust and healthy career. One cannot rely solely on what they were originally trained in because the world is moving too fast, and those that rest on their laurels are unfortunately going to be left behind.
8. There is a marked increase in people making wholesale career switches
Another key trend that is generational in nature is the idea that instead of staying in one career for your whole life, people are making multiple career switches – all of which necessitate a dedication to continuing education and the willingness to try new things. That bodes well for the industry and is probably a healthier way for someone to think about a lifetime of work in many cases.
These trends are accelerating, and the continuing education industry is going to play an important role in shaping the minds and career capital of people from all walks of life. When it’s working well, it can be a key enabler for greater growth both for businesses that benefit from cutting-edge skills and thinking, as well as the individuals who invest in their own personal development.
Key Companies and Market Insights
Lastly, we’d like to mention some key players in the space, to give you a sense of how some of the more mature companies have been able to find a foothold in the market.
Emeritus is an online education platform that offers high-quality online courses from top-rated universities. They have made accessibility their key mission and, when combined with intuitive technology, have gone a long way to accelerating the progress of lifelong learning.
Masterclass is a high-production-quality streaming service where experts share bite-sized lessons about a wide range of skills. It’s designed to dive into what makes the top 1% of any field successful, so that students can emulate those paths and acquire those skills themselves.
Lightcast is a company that provides data and analytics that help educators to optimize their program offerings, connect students to programs and careers, and communicate outcomes and impact. These are key foundational blocks for a thriving education ecosystem, and they enable more effective solutions to be built on top of a data-driven strategy.
Coursera is perhaps the biggest MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) platform in the world, offering a variety of accredited and non-accredited courses that range widely in terms of content, context, and instructor. A lot of the credit for driving greater adoption of online education can be given to Coursera for the sheer scale that they’re brought to the ecosystem.
Udemy is a competitor in the MOOC space and offers a similar value proposition to that of Coursera. They also offer a paid monthly option that unlocks unlimited courses, which is a different business model from the typical one where you pay for the specific course you want to take.
LinkedIn Learning is the education segment of the popular professional social network LinkedIn and it offers expert-led courses across business, technology, and creative endeavors. Intrinsically linked with the social network itself, the idea is that once you’ve completed a course and demonstrated your proficiency, you can then leverage that accreditation on your profile to enhance your career capital.
A Growing Industry Segment Requires World-Class Teams
Continuing education is something that continues to grow in scale and importance as our world speeds up. In order to stay relevant, workers simply have to take their own development seriously so that they can stay up to date with changing trends, reskill themselves, and prepare for new roles and evolving careers.
The industry that is growing around continuing education is an exciting one, and by leveraging key technology, there’s no reason that we can’t see this expanding into a juggernaut that changes the way that we think about education as a whole.
Here at The Renaissance Network, we help Education and Technology firms from all sectors find top talent to advance their efforts and improve their ability to drive innovation within their competitive sets. If you’re looking for top talent to help drive growth and impact in your company, be sure to get in touch, and let’s see how we can help.