The Technical University of Munich (TUM) is ushering in a historical new era with the opening of the TUM Institute for LifeLong Learning (TUM IL³). In addition to cutting-edge research and first-class curriculum for students, TUM is entering upon a new dimension: Lifelong continuing education for employees, professional experts and leadership staff. TUM is responding to the rapidly growing need for continuing education in the era of dramatic technological leaps, for example in Artificial Intelligence and automation, in digital and additive manufacturing procedures, in precision medicine, biotechnologies and, in the future, quantum technologies.
At the virtual founding event on Monday TUM President Thomas F. Hofmann asserted, "I’m convinced: Continuous learning will become an imperative for the resilience of our economy and our society! This means we have to ramp up our most important innovation driver - people! The extent to which we benefit from transformation is not only a question of technological expertise, it is much more a cultural challenge."
"Today with the TUM IL3 we are activating one of the most important core measures of our TUM AGENDA 2030 as part of the Excellence Strategy of the German federal and state governments," said Hofmann. Here TUM is developing beyond the classic university model to become a real "hub of knowledge exchange". Experts and leadership staff from the economic sector, politics and society can continuously return to TUM as "adult learners" in order to further certify their expertise in scientifically robust curricula.
Starting point for expert and leadership staff
The Founding Director of the new TUM IL³ is Senior Vice President - Talent Management and Diversity Prof. Claudia Peus: "We want to create THE starting point for expert and leadership staff from the widest possible variety of backgrounds, business sectors and nationalities in the German-speaking countries, even in all of Europe. As the best university in the EU, a status confirmed by last year’s QS World Ranking, we are in an excellent position to achieve exactly that."
Professor Peus also pointed out that TUM IL³ is anything but a carbon-copy of continuing management education efforts by typical, private business schools. "Our program incorporates our entire scientific spectrum, ranging from engineering and natural sciences to life sciences and social sciences, all the way to medicine. And we can ensure that our content always matches the latest state of research."
A clear perspective on the topics of the future
Bavaria’s Minister of Science Bernd Sibler stated: "TUM’s excellence is also manifested in its clear perspective on the topics of the future. TUM uses ground-breaking concepts to tackle new challenges and set international standards, as is clearly illustrated at the TUM Institute for LifeLong Learning. Academic continuing education opportunities like those provided by TUM are of increasing importance today, a fact reflected in our new university innovation act."
Leading companies share focus on continuing education
TUM is collaborating closely with leading companies in the development of continuing education opportunities and is aligning topics with actual demand in the economic sector. Petra Scharner-Wolff, member of the Executive Board of the Otto Group, remarked at the TUM IL³ founding event that she is "a zealous advocate of lifelong learning", adding that learning has to become part of our everyday experience. Given the dramatic transformations taking place in the economy, she said, continuing education is "not a nice-to-have, it is a crucial element in a company’s ability to survive."
Dr. Victoria Ossadnik, Chairwoman of the Board of Management of E.ON Energie Deutschland GmbH, called for "learning things that break the rules", pointing out that companies and their employees have to prepare for changes in familiar structures and mechanisms and that ongoing continuing education will keep organizations flexible enough "to master disruptions." She also said the collaborative effort with TUM will generate an important outside perspective.
Harald Krüger, member of the Supervisory Boards of Lufthansa AG and Deutsche Telekom AG, regards lifelong learning as a "strategic success factor" which requires companies to develop a positive culture of learning. He added that it is particularly important here to remain flexible and to define an objective, "To focus on impact, on benefit to the company and then simply take off running."
Infineon Technologies AG CEO Dr. Reinhard Ploss more than anything sees motivation in lifelong learning. He pointed to the need to create curiosity and enthusiasm among employees, adding that the constant transformation of basic economic and technological circumstances poses the core question: "How can I re-invent myself?"
This also applies to TUM itself: In addition, TUM IL³ will centrally address the continuing education of TUM research, teaching and administrative staff.