Is the grass greener on the other side?
Experiential learning, lifelong learning
and career shift
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to give a more appropriate picture of the new trend of career
shifts in a late career.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper uses literature studies.
Findings – The paper gives a more apposite picture of experiential learning and career shift for mature
Research limitations/implications – The paper gives no exact guidance in how to assess experiential
Practical implications – Appreciating mature people’s experiential learning gives employers a broader
and richer hiring base, which is especially important in a period of shortage of employees.
Social implications – For many societies the age distribution is unfavorable with too many mature
people in pension age. The good thing is that many mature people are interested in staying active in the
Originality/value – The paper argues that a combination of academic and experiential learning
probably will qualify individuals best for career shifts as it leads them to a higher order of competence.
Career shifts will blow new air into a person’s career and enrich them and the organization, which they
Keywords Experiential learning, Lifelong learning, Career shifts, Career development, Older workers
Paper type Conceptual paper
The concept of experiential learning contains different time dimensions. Experiential
learning can take place in direct real-life situations, which resembles action learning (Larsen,
2004). However, experiential learning can also be studied in relation to a longer time
perspective, for example in relation to lifelong careers (Kolb, 1984; Wilkinson et al., 2002). It
is the latter form that needs more attention.
This objective is justiﬁed on the following basis. Current demographic trends in many
European and North American countries suggest that individual professionals will retire later
and, partly as a result of the transformations in the global economy, will seek opportunities in
several professional ﬁelds requiring different capabilities and educational options. This
trend also suggests that professionals will pursue additional degrees (credentials) later in
their professional careers (Westphal, 2008). Also Jarvis, 2007 points out that the global
forces demand a more educated, and continually educated, workforce.
Many politicians are concerned about the unfavorable age distribution in their societies with
still greater proportions of elderly people. If people could work longer and contribute to the
economic output much would be achieved and burdens taken off the shoulders of younger
citizens, who experience still rising taxation of their income. For people, this will enhance life
ON THE HORIZON
VOL. 20 NO. 1 2012, pp. 74-83, Q Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 1074-8121 DOI 10.1108/10748121211202099
Jens Graff is Assistant
Professor in the SolBridge
International School of
Republic of Korea.