By Mitrankur (Mit) Majumdar, vice president and regional head—services, Americas, Infosys.
Gen X and older learnt a broad range of skills during their years of formal education that they applied throughout their working life. On the other hand, the millennials-and-younger employees will acquire new skills just-in-time and in short spells, repeatedly, as they change not just roles but even professions several times during their career. As the half-life of skills shrinks fast, the talent gap is widening to alarming levels: Millions of Americans remain unemployed (8.4 million in August 2021 ) even as millions of jobs go unfilled (10.1 million ).
Academic institutions, corporate trainers, and all other types of education providers have to address this issue by stepping up their learning and development (L&D) initiatives. However, simply throwing money at it is not the answer. Study after study has found that executives are disappointed with the outcomes of their company’s often substantial training investments.
I believe learnability may be the answer. Especially when nurtured alongside a growth mindset where the learner is constantly looking to enrich their knowledge and aspire to an upward mobility in terms of skills and opportunities.
Learnability can be defined as a personal attitude based on a conscious and active focus on the permanent development of one’s own talent. It is this attitude of self-management of learning that’s different from the traditional approach of internal training, perceived as a requirement of the organization, external to the individual.
The reason why learnability works is because it empowers learners – rather than the learning providers – to manage the contours of their learning. The learners decide what to learn and at what speed, when they will learn, and through which channel. The core principle of learnability is to promote learner-centric learning; this is precisely why it produces better outcomes.
By definition, learnability requires learning to be freed from the boundaries of physical classrooms, in-person teaching, fixed timings, and linear, rigid, monolithic curriculums. The employees of today are learning lifelong, but that’s where the similarity ends.