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Lifelong learning, learnability and a growth mindset

A couple of years ago, the World Economic Forum’s predictions about the future of work suggested the disappearance of many jobs (75 million) and the emergence of 133 million new roles.

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According to the Manpower index in Spain, 2.6 million new jobs would be created by 2026, setting the employment level above the all-time high recorded in 2007.

Artificial intelligence is expected to increase global GDP by 14% by 2030 with its effects on productivity and consumption.

We live in an age of automation and artificial intelligence. The challenge is for us humans to know how to adapt quickly enough to this change and to emerging professions. This will allow us to prevent massive unemployment, talent shortages, and growing inequality.

Against this backdrop, the labor market is not able to keep up with the pace of the digital revolution. On top of that is the entire situation brought on by the pandemic. As a result, the coming years will bring a professional deficit, a need to fill certain positions that require professionals with specialized technological capabilities. In fact, this is already happening.

According to the ManpowerGroup index, 26% of current openings aren’t being filled here in Spain. Meanwhile, our unemployment rate hovers around 14% - more than three million unemployed.

The pandemic has led to the emergence of new ways of working. These new modes have, in turn, entailed more flexible work models that allow for greater work-life balance. However, the situation has also led to teams being asked for more: more initiative, proactivity, ingenuity, collaboration. This won’t be a flash in the pan.

In this context, our capacity for continued learning is critical. What we learn at school or in college is made obsolete only a few years later.

The question is how can we ensure that we have the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful throughout our entire professional career.

The answer lies in lifelong learning, possessing a growth mindset, and learnability.

Lifelong Learning

According to a special report in The Economist, lifelong learning is an economic imperative.

“To remain competitive, and to give low- and high-skilled workers alike the best chance of success, economies need to offer training and career-focused education throughout people’s working lives,” says this report from The Economist.

There are no excuses for not learning something new; the possibilities are endless. It’s just a matter of focusing and setting a course of action to bolster our professional careers.

Lifelong learning is about creating and maintaining a positive attitude towards learning, both for personal and professional development.

In addition, learning on your own offers a set of advantages and benefits in addition to improving different skills:

There is no need for a specific reason to learn, as learning for learning’s sake can be a rewarding experience.

This is part of what it means to be human: we have an innate curiosity, and we are natural learners. We develop and grow thanks to our ability to learn.

 

A growth mindset: continual learning

 

Psychologist Carol Dweck conducted an investigation where she differentiated fixed and growth mindsets and how these relate to people’s perception of their own abilities.

Those with a fixed mindset believe that intelligence is static, making it difficult to change thoughts, behaviors, and beliefs that no longer serve us. This characteristic also makes it difficult to learn in an agile way or adapt to an ambiguous, changing world, like the digital world.

On the other hand, those with growth mindsets enjoy learning and take every opportunity to improve and learn new things. They are usually the people who offer and share information, ask questions, and try new ways of doing things.

Digital environments are constantly changing. Therefore, they require constant, quick adaptation and learning, not only on a practical level but also on a mental and emotional level.

Therefore, those who have a growth mindset will adapt more easily and quickly to these changes. They are already used to putting more effort into learning new things, taking learning into their own hands, and having a greater ability to bounce back from challenges and setbacks. They also already have a better understanding of how to handle frustration.

Learnability

Learnability is the ability to learn new skills throughout one’s life and to remain employable in the long-term.

The word learnability doesn’t have a widely accepted translation into Spanish (though aprendibilidad sometimes appears), so the English neologism is used instead. Currently, neither term has been accepted by the RAE, the Spanish language’s governing body.

Responding quickly to change is something that can be trained, developed, and learned. It is actually one of the most in-demand traits of the 21st century. Some are already calling it the “skill of the future.”

A high degree of learnability indicates a high capacity for learning and adapting to new circumstances. Other characteristics are curiosity and the ability to cultivate skills. But how do you know if someone has those skills?

 

 

How can you incorporate lifelong learning into everyday life?  How can you develop learnability and a growth mindset?

To improve your ability to learn, you have to train it:

 

1st: Determine what your interests and goals are

We learn from ourselves, not from others. It is important to reflect on what we like and are passionate about, as well as what we want for our future. It’s best to set short-term goals and find the necessary motivation to make them a reality.

2nd: Identify your strengths and work on them, but more importantly, identify your weaknesses. These will allow you to grow by cultivating and developing them.

3rd: Make a list of what you would like to learn.

Once you’ve identified your motivations, prioritize them and analyze what they entail.

4th: Identify the relevant resources you have and how you want to go about it.

To reach your goals, you must first know where you’re starting from. Researching and reading about a goal can help you figure out how to achieve it.

5th: Plan your goal for learning in your life

You have to make time and space for your new goal. This is the only way you can achieve it in the long-term and not get discouraged or leave it behind.

6th: Commit yourself to this.

Find an internal source commitment. Once you’ve set realistic expectations and have internal motivation, this is the most critical step. You simply have to commit and not make any excuses.

7th: Share what you learn

Be proactive, propose new initiatives, share what you learn with your colleagues, your company, your friends... work as a team, grow in terms of empathy and emotional intelligence.

 

Through all of this, keep in mind that e-learning is lifelong learning and learnability’s best friend. As we said, to improve your ability to learn, you have to train it. The problem is that it’s often difficult to find the time and resources to devote to this training. As such, virtual classes offer significant advantages over other learning models.

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