Why it’s important to hone learnability as a skill


Back in the day when technology wasn’t like it is now, most jobs were repetitive and mundane. The nature of work was standardized and roles were rigidly defined. The climb up to success was straightforward back then. Today, it is the exact opposite. The structure, processes, and responsibilities within organizations have evolved and have become more complex.

There are many factors that contribute to the changing patterns of work, but two of its key drivers are the increasing pressure on organizations to become more competitive and customer-focused, and the technological breakthroughs that enable mobility and globalization.

As the the nature of work continues to change rapidly, so too do the skill requirements of our workforces. What will soon define success in their roles is not what they already know, but their ability to learn new things and apply them in their work. This is why building a team based on learnability—their ability and desire to learn new skills quickly and adapt to their ever-changing environment—and the implementation of continuous training are important.

In their  “New Talent Landscape: Recruiting Difficulty and Skills Shortages” report surveying more than 3,300 HR professionals in 2016, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) tells us that more organizations are finding it difficult to recruit talent with the right skillsets compared to a few years ago.

According to Jennifer Schramm, manager of workforce trends at SHRM, “It’s getting harder to find people for the jobs they are trying to fill and the top reasons are a low number of applicants, lack of needed work experience among those that do apply, competition from other employers and a lack of technical skills among job applicants.”

Skill shortages and the endless disruption of technologies are putting a renewed emphasis on training. Even as organizations buff up their employer brand and ramp up their social media engagement for recruitment, many HR professionals find that the most effective solution is to train existing employees to take on hard-to-fill roles.

Today’s workforce should be equipped to learn and develop new skills and expertise, even if they are not linked to one’s current job. Unfortunately, most organizations are yet to address this new reality. They continue to rely on academic qualifications and hard skills upon recruitment, even though workplace learning is quite different from academic learning. Without proper training and development programs in place, ill-equipped workforces will begin to falter.


Here are some tips to help you jumpstart a culture of learning in your organization:

  • Always think ahead and nurture employees for future roles through training programs that will help you create a pool of promotable employees.
  • Consider upskilling and backfilling, by training your most productive and trainable employees, promoting them to more critical positions, and replacing their previous lower-risk roles with new hires.
  • Look into cross-training to insert fresh insights and variety into responsibilities.
  • Make sure that newly-learned skills are retained through real-world application.
  • Value trainability more than hard skills in your recruitment process.
  • Remember, training not only aids development, but also helps with talent retention.


Building a team that evolves with the times requires the close monitoring of your employees and the proper implementation of training programs that will help them work toward achieving your organizational goals. Rather than solely relying on recruitment, use training as a means to strategically fill your skill gaps.

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