Last issue of Learn & Perform E News

Enews
This issue will be the last Learn & Perform E-News.
I have enjoyed writing the e-news all these years, but it is time to say adieu or good bye to all of you. I have decided to quit E-News and social media, effective 1 January 2019. Thanks for all of your wonderful comments and support all these years for my endeavours to be a writer.

The early days

It was 1994 and the internet was a new buzzword. We had a Jaring internet account. Dr Nat, my classmate, colleague and friend, persuaded me to write the e-zine or e-news using Microsoft Biz Central. He was trying to get me into writing as he wanted me to codify our professional practice. The writings by illustrious practitioners, trainers and speakers such as Don Kirkpatrick, Bob Pike, Thiagi, Mel Silbermann and Zig Ziglar motivated me, but I was never sure I would be able to replicate their success. Eventually, I started writing the Learn & Perform E-News in 1995. One of my colleagues M. C. Jitha did a great job promoting the e-news. Ably supported by the technological tools employed by our young CTO Murali, the list grew from a mere 11 subscribers to nearly 30,000 in about 12 months. Most of these earlier newsletters are in the archives section of my website. The pressure to write led me to read a lot and the writing led to 16 books. As I reflect over the last 25 years, I can’t but feel grateful that I did write this much. It has kept me active and relevant.

The last 25 years

Over the last 25 years, Internet technology has evolved, and the convergence has been mindboggling. The mobile phone is unbelievably pervasive today. I remember my first mobile phone, bought in 1991. It was a UK Technophone model that was quite heavy, although we used to think it was very stylish. You can see the Technophone for yourself in its early days being used by the young Prince Charles on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=icc2pHEj_xg

Today, the smart phone has defined new standards in the way we work and live. Since the mid-1990s, the Internet has had a revolutionary impact on culture, commerce, and technology, including the rise of near-instant communication by email, sms, Voice over Internet Protocol, video calls, the Web with all the discussion forums, blogs, social media, on-line shopping and the ubiquitous WhatsApp.  Needless to say, Amazon and the iPhone have transformed our lives.

In the face of this avalanche of changes, I persisted with the e-news despite the falling number of subscribers. Around this time, I started writing blogs sporadically and posted news, articles and photos on the social media: Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Linked In, Instagram, etc. Each was a different experience even though the core skill remained the same, that of putting your thoughts into words. I depended on designers like Khiem and Agnes and editors such as Renu to assist me. Nevertheless, the experience gained in writing was something that I treasured. It gave me a new outlook to life. As I gradually left the world of training, human resources consulting and speaking to focus more on corporate life, I started to write on a wide variety of topics. It took me longer to write given my other distractions, yet several of my colleagues like Dr Naresh helped me publish in professional and academic journals. However, my only regret is that my efforts to persuade my colleagues to write were not that successful as their interests were different from mine. So, the question is ‘Why stop the e-news now?’

Becoming a Senior Citizen

A few weeks ago, we decided to see a Hindi film starring Aamir Khan. A thoughtful movie, The Thugs of Hindostan, dwells on the cultural challenges and the neo-colonial mindset that hold us back from progress in a very positive way.  Usually we buy three adult tickets, but on this occasion, it was two adult tickets and one senior citizen discounted ticket. My daughter and wife laughed about it, but I was not sure I wanted that discounted ticket. My friend, the British trainer and former colleague, Jeremy Spoor always used to say, “Time flies.” Yes, time has flown so fast and today there are so many other platforms to share one’s views in a more effective way. And so, I decided it best just to keep my website and quit everything else given the focus on privacy that we all cherish today.

Areas of Interest

Those of you who have followed my writing would probably know my key areas of interest over the years.

  • Making Learning Fun
  • Competency Management
  • Training the Trainer
  • HR Technologies
  • Creating an engaged workforce (Creating Your Own Rainbow)
  • Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET)

Some of these areas, I have passed on to my colleagues such as Karen, Subra, Samsudin and numerous others. Probably, my only key research interest today would be the area of TVET and the associated concepts of employability and inclusivity. Learning must be relevant, help people find work, and make the world more inclusive. It’s not easy and I recognise the challenges as I am in the field of private sector education.  I am aware of the challenges of academic excellence and financial excellence.

The Future of Work

Stephane Kasriel, Upwork CEO, says that the future of work won’t be about college degrees, it will be about job skills. Echoing this, the World Economic Forum reveals that close to two thirds of children entering primary school will end up in jobs that do not exist. In a survey on Freelancing, apparently 93% of freelancers with education conclude that skills training was for more useful than their college education in their current work. This has led to a proliferation of new, non-traditional education options including e-learning sites such as MOOC, Coursera and Udemy. Learning has to be on demand and quick to meet the changing needs.

One of the key challenges highlighted in Stephane Kasriel’s article is that a majority of twenty-three million students will take on debt without the certainty that the education will pay off the debt. In Malaysia, the challenges surrounding the repayment of loans to the National Education Fund (PTPTN) have been a subject of much discussion. This brings in the issue of relevance and employability. Other question is of course the one on the issue of inclusivity. Is our education system making society more inclusive? As the article highlights,

“rapid technological change, combined with rising education costs, have made our traditional higher-education system an increasingly anachronistic and risky path. The cost of a college education is so high now that we have reached a tipping point at which the debt incurred often isn’t outweighed by future earnings potential. Yet too often, degrees are still thought of as lifelong stamps of professional competency. They tend to create a false sense of security, perpetuating the illusion that work — and the knowledge it requires — is static. It’s not. For example, a 2016 World Economic Forum report found that “in many industries and countries, the most in-demand occupations or specialties did not exist 10 or even five years ago, and the pace of change is set to accelerate.”

It is apparent that we need more new routes to achieve our goals in life. As many organisations are offering well-paid jobs to non-traditional degrees, it is clear that competence matters more than college degrees. Google is one of the organisations that highlights this trend. While no one in his or her right mind would say that college education is a waste of time and money or that regulated professions such as medicine would have to do away with degrees, the fact remains that lifelong learning and continuous skills development is a must. Degree or no degree, we need to embrace the mindset, ‘learning never stops.’ As a testimony to this mindset, we have our 94-year-old Prime Minister, who is a role model for lifelong learning and now champions the cause of inclusivity for a better world. Everybody has to champion this mindset.

Once again as I sign off, I thank each and every one of you for your support all these years.

We look forward to your support to our various related business initiatives at

I will continue to be active at www.palan.org even as I quit all other forums.

Goodbye!
R. Palan
www.palan.org

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