Lifelong learning, as a concept, has recently received a lot of attention. It has, however, been viewed largely in the context of individuals and as to how they need to continuously learn and evolve in a knowledge economy. The concept places value on flexible learning strategies, multidisciplinary and flexible approaches to curricula, and
up gradation of skills to respond to the demands generated by the external environment. The external environment, however, effects not only individuals but the organizations as well. And to continue to remain relevant to the external system, organizations need to learn and evolve as much. This essay proposes to discuss issues involved in this phenomenon and possible strategies for the organizations aiming at strategic investments in this direction for their continued survival and growth. The emerging learning society and knowledge economy places a premium on analytical ability, information assimilation, knowledge generation and mobilisation Morley, L. (2003). It is felt that these could be indicative of some of the options available to successful organizations of tomorrow. It is also argued that organizations that are successful in responding to this challenge will only be able to meet the test of continued relevance, sustainability and growth. The value in these organizations will be created essentially through intelligent creation, accumulation, management and application of knowledge.
The External Challenge: Organisations in today’s world are faced with two challenges. Firstly, the speed and the volume of the interactions and the transactions with the clients are far more intense and varied than ever before (Delors, 1996). This has been enabled by rapid developments in the areas of technology focusing on creation, management, analysis and communication of information. Secondly, the world is increasingly a global village where productive assets can be deployed at the most cost effective location to produce a good or a service, which can be utilized at the most relevant or premium location. These two challenges by themselves are placing a premium on information/knowledge intensive work, necessitating continuous retraining and redeployment of the manpower.
Faced with these challenges, different organisations tend to respond differently. There are those that see these challenges as insurmountable hurdles and are not really able to respond to the challenge faced. These organizations simply go under. There is the second category that looks at these as challenges that need to be surmounted to sustain their business and maintain their performance. These organizations are able to adapt to some extent and survive. Then we have the third category, which views these new realities as opportunities. Such organisations ride on the new technologies and the opportunities provided by them to forge ahead of others and build competitive advantage for future. A knowledge-oriented organization that focuses on continuous...