What learnability is?

Learnability mirrors a “hungry” mind. Although it may be a recent coined term, it is a very well-established science term, mainly within psychology; it defines the willingness and the ability to quickly grow one’s skill set. In other words, it is the ability to adapt in a constantly changing work environment aiming to stay relevant and succeed. We are talking about a continuous professional development to remain attractive. When it comes to the organizations, learnability is important to enable their workforce to learn new skills and adapt to new processes and technologies. There are three levels of learnability

  • High Learners: People who are eager to learn, positive about their prospects and take responsibility for their own training and development.
  • Potential Learners: People who believe that education and personal development will lead to further career success, however they’re not High Learners yet.
  • Low Learners: People who, although were born with an intense desire to learn, somewhere along the line lost passion for learning.

Learnability helps individuals cross over, regardless their learning style; their different personality types. The question is, how do we make the second enhance their learnability level and the last ones to be potential learners though?

How learnability works: The learn, unlearn and relearn process

Knowledge is freely available at a touch of a button. But is learnability about acquiring abundance of knowledge just by sitting in front of a computer screen all day? The answer is no! As rules are changing fast, our ability to be agile is extremely important. Up to 65% of the jobs Generation Z will perform in the future don’t even exist yet and up to 45% of the activities people are paid to perform today could be automated using current technology. Certainly, it’s not just technology that’s changing the world but also global economy and changes in demography and longevity; experts predict that by 2020 there will be more people over 65 years old than under age 15 in the world’s developed countries. Family structure, the globalization of talent, and continued innovation in technology subsequently affect the social trends in general.

In a world of change, the learners shall inherit the earth, while the learned shall find themselves perfectly suited for a world that no longer exists.

 Eric Hoffer


The triptych learn, unlearn, relearn

Therefore, in this rapid changing world, learnability is not just about learning, but also about unlearning. No, this is not a typo! People need to unlearn, though paradox! Unlearning means letting go of old rules and learning new ones, getting rid of old habits that hold us back and supersede them by others.

For instance, over the course of the next years we are about to unlearn:

  • the technology and the methodology we use
  • the way we communicate
  • the skills and knowledge needed to get to the next level

This is a process of exploration by using different methods of searching everything we know and value to discover unknowns (Relearn). Therefore, relearning is the consequence of unlearning, a refocused learning.

7 Tips on developing learnability

As said above, learnability has nothing to do with qualifications or job titles an individual already has. Once we gain experience we have to be able to sharpen our practicality. Thus, learnability is a way to expand experience.

Anyone can become a constant and deliberate learner by:

  1. Getting membership in communities
  2. Reading, observing, measuring and listening critically
  3. Writing, organizing knowledge and sharing your ideas
  4. Interacting with technology
  5. Exposing yourself to demanding situations
  6. Participating in and organizing social and knowledge events
  7. Building wide networks

Why learnability matters!

At this point it is important to differentiate ‘knowledge’ and ‘learnability’. As said above, learnability refers to the ‘ability of acquiring knowledge efficiently and effectively’. Knowledge can refer to a theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. However, being knowledgeable does not imply learnability. For example, someone may not know to acquire new knowledge independently by himself. One thing is sure, knowledge does not provide skills and courage, only practicing does.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.


Understanding an individual’s learnability potential is a key indicator of the support they’ll need to succeed. Operators recognize and reward learnability because they do not want to lack critical skills in their workforce. Learnability matters because it shows that a person is employable. Specifically it indicates:

  • agility or resilience to adapt to the consequence of change
  • critical thinking skills
  • decision making
  • creativity and innovation
  • emotional intelligence

All that said, learnability is the key to tapping into the jobs market for the next generation. In a world that Master Degrees are said to be the new Bachelors in the hiring process, it is very interesting to ask ourselves whether holding two degrees in 2018 is better than one, or operators are focused on skills too?

I never tech my pupils, I only provide the conditions in which they can learn

Albert Einstein

Explore more watching this video by the World Economic Forum

This single skill could save your job

Do you have learnability? Read more: http://wef.ch/2yBfMd6

Δημοσιεύτηκε από World Economic Forum στις Παρασκευή, 6 Απριλίου 2018

About Apostolos Belokas

Apostolos is a Maritime Safety, Quality & Environmental Expert, Consultant, Trainer and Project Manager with more than a 20-year background in shipping as Technical, Marine, Safety & Training Superintendent and Consultant. He entered the industry back in early 90’s as Engineering Superintendent with a leading ship manager operating a mixed fleet of bulk and oil/chemical tankers. He then shifted to regulatory compliance and QHSE as superintendent and later as a Consultant and Trainer. Apostolos has successfully completed a wide range of QHSE projects including 250+ management system projects (ISM/ISO 9001-14001-18001/TMSA/MLC), 500 vessel and office audits to various standards and he has trained more than 8,000 people in a wide variety of QHSE subjects. He has also presented and chaired to more than 40 conferences. He holds Mechanical Engineering Bachelor and Master’s specialising in Energy & Environment and Master’s Degree in Maritime Business and Business Administration (MBA), all of them awarded with distinction. Apostolos is the Managing Director of SQE MARINE, SQE ACADEMY and Managing Editor of SAFETY4SEA. 

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