Learnability – the must-have characteristic of the future

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As the technology keeps changing the world, what will soon define our success in our careers is not the things we know, but our ability to learn the new. The term learnability is usually associated with software or operating systems, and how easy it is for a person to get used to and start using it. However, when talking about a person’s learnability, we mean the ability and desire to learn new skills quickly and adapt to different ways of doing things. As technology changes, so does the way we work, and high learnability is a key characteristic in any employee.

The good news are that according to Manpower Group’s Millennial Careers: 2020 Vision -report 93% of millennials see continuous learning and development as an important factor in their future careers. So, the workforce of the future is coming in with the right mindset. Millennials are always looking for new challenges where they can learn, and are willing to put time and money into developing themselves. But how do we know that our graduates have high learnability and will be able to adapt to the quick changes in the modern working environment?

Manpower Group divides millennials into three different categories according to their level of learnability: high learners, potential learners, and low learners. 64% of millennials fall into the middle, whereas the smallest group is the low learners. High learners are independent and resilient and stay optimistic about their ability to get a job. They are determined to develop themselves no matter what it takes. This group needs little encouragement from their employers, as they take responsibility for their own learning. Potential learners on the other hand need more encouragement from their employers, because although they have the willingness to learn, they have less self-confidence. However, they have huge potential to grow within the organization if they can see the connection between their development and career.

As for the low learners? Thanks to their lower learnability, it may be challenging to move them forward throughout the changes. However, there are steps that educators can take to increase learnability in their students, and thus also their employability. Here are five tips for doing so:


  1. Train active listening

Have exercises where the students will need to really focus and listen to what the other person is saying without commenting or taking notes. Then ask them to put what they heard into concept maps and explain what they heard back to the speaker in their own words.


  1. Encourage asking questions

Young children are curious about everything around them and ask questions about everything to try to understand the world a bit better. Somewhere while growing up we lose this curiosity, which in the end is essential for learning. Encourage your students to ask questions, so they can discover what they do and don’t know.


  1. Experiment with different learning techniques

Everyone learns in a different way, some by listening, some by seeing, others by experiencing. Sometimes we just haven’t found the best way for us to learn. By using different techniques in teaching, you will enable young people to find out what is the best way for them to learn.


  1. Make your students read

Reading opens up the world of learning. By making it a habit, students will continue reading even when they are not told to do so anymore. The fact that someone read that life changing book might just be the reason why they get the job over someone else. Encourage students to find the books that they enjoy, instead of assigning a certain book for the whole class.


  1. Don’t restrict their creativity

Learning is about curiosity, but many times our education systems restrict us with the idea that there is only one right way. This can be very harmful for young people, as they might stop exploring and using their imagination. By staying curious and creative, we can discover new ways of doing things, or learn the ways that do not work.


Lifelong learning is certainly the way to stay employable in the future.  Learnability is something we all need to adjust to – young people to increase their own learnability, educators to support in it, and employers to seek ways to measure it in their recruiting process. How can you make your students love learning and embrace it every day to become more employable in the future?


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