27/08/2021 - 15:03

Curiosity killed the skills shortage: becoming an intentional lifelong learner.

27/08/2021 - 15:03


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Enquiries into skills shortages, predictions about future skills, and solutions to acquire them have been on constant repeat in newsfeeds since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and have sparked a ‘global reskilling’ urgency. Recent reports suggest that skills required in today’s jobs will be obsolete by 2022!

However, this discourse on skill shortages, future skills, and the role of individuals, industry, and governments in addressing them has been ongoing for decades without a clear way forward. One way shortages and reskilling have been dealt with in Australia is by importing extra workers. With the current brake on individual global mobility, this tactic is no longer an option. Another is to make more affordable a range of upskilling education options. While governments may be keen to support ‘upskilling,’ the constant barrage and conflicting guidance about the specific skills needed to support the future world of work makes it challenging to decide what, where, and when to upskill.    

The current work landscape’s volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA) and the ever-changing and often unknown demands resultant from emerging crises require a workforce that deploys non-technical and specific technical and cognitive skills. It is time to re-think the discussion on the types of skills and explore intentional learning as the next ‘super’ skill[1]  . 

When you are intentional, you choose to make decisions and act. When you learn intentionally, you decide to invest in the skills that will create your future and leverage formal, informal, and non-formal opportunities and experiences as part of your learning, harnessing your curiosity mindset.  

Curiosity is instrumental in supporting educational attainment. Curiosity can be an innate desire or a passion and motivation to learn voluntarily; research by behavioural economist Loewenstein[2] situated curiosity as arising when there is a gap between what we know and want to know. Specifically, Lowenstein postulated that the more a person knows about a topic, the more they want to know because there is a desire to close the ‘information gap.’ Wanting to know marks the beginning of a virtuous cycle of building confidence as the gap closes, reinforcing the feeling that we are capable, which primes us to become more competent and feeds the ability to be a self-directed learner – a necessity for the intentional learner.

Such learners can (and do) access an overabundance of quality online learning materials via the massive online open courses industry to explore the information gap. In this environment, curiosity is personal, and individuals have control of how and what they learn. However, to maximise the opportunities for intentional learners, engaging in learning and teaching co-design is fundamental.  

Co-design refers to a collaboration between individuals to create new work through a range of participatory methods. Within teaching and learning, curriculum co-design has recently become part of a broader discourse on student engagement as part of developing curiosity, with ‘students as partners in learning and teaching’ receiving considerable attention[3]. Curriculum co-design also presents opportunities for academics and industry professionals to work together on problem-based contexts drawn from and informed by the insights of industry professionals/collaborators, end-users, and academics.  

This approach to learning and teaching is the cornerstone of new Business education at Murdoch University which moves away from the traditional ‘one model of teaching and learning fits all’ to one that maximises opportunities for connectedness, collaboration, and co-design via a curiosity platform. In a labour market characterised by automatisation, all Business students will benefit from a curriculum that focuses on adding value beyond what can be done by automated systems and intelligent machines and continually adapt to new ways of working and new occupations by learning how to be that intentional learner.  

The best time to level up your professional skills and your profile is right now by becoming an intentional lifelong learner. Learn more about Murdoch University and how they are making it their business to rethink business education.


[1] https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-work/the-most-fundamental-skill-intentional-learning-and-the-career-advantage

[2] https://www.cmu.edu/dietrich/sds/docs/loewenstein/PsychofCuriosity.pdf



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