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Unlearning: The Next Challenge for Training in the Future


By Lola Lotero Vecino

We live in times where traditional classroom training has given way to continuous training in the workplace, where the culture of "others train me up" has transformed into "I participate in the design of my professional development".

This change has become indispensable, in line with the McKinsey Global Institute’s predictions, as by 2020 there will be 95 million people in the world without the technical training that companies demand, in addition to 85 million active workers without the necessary training to fit in these jobs.

Thus, continuous learning must be the competency driving our personal and professional progress; learning and unlearning become fundamental skills for people in this new setting. To achieve this, we need to feel the curiosity to discover and be unafraid of making mistakes. Above all, we must be aware that the greatest enemy of such progress is conformism, which distances us from what we can become, only allowing us to be what we were.

Companies wanting to be at the vanguard of innovation must have the learning culture installed in their DNA. That said, it is important to be clear about the learning model that we want to implement in our organization. The traditional model inherited from the industrial revolution and the Age of Enlightenment is oriented to acquiring knowledge and seeking stability. However, this vision of learning is rather outdated.

From the training field we need to design a development model that facilitates employability of people, while contributing to their mobility and productivity at work. The challenge for professionals who work in the training and development field is to teach how to unlearn, getting people to question what they have been doing for years in the same old way. The problem for many teams and companies is not about knowing nor discovering more, but about unlearning. What is important is to apply, put into practice, and stop doing things that are no longer valid.


Some of the key factors that should serve as a guide for creating this new model are as follows:


  • Mobilize people by showing them the benefits of learning and the consequences of staying inactive and doing only what they already know how to do well.


  • Align the training offer with business needs. The training model must be a tool that serves the company's strategy. We must break away from transactional tasks and from the day-to-day urgencies. This model must be attractive to those within and transform us to become counsellors, strategic consultants and coaches for our professionals.


  • Focus on what to learn ahead of the trends. We have a duty to facilitate the development of skills and attitudes that empower people to achieve their goals quickly and efficiently for themselves, their teams, and the organization itself.


All this indicates that the future to come is ever more changing, ambiguous and uncertain. This requires companies to make a bigger investment effort in corporate training that is the key to constantly updated professionals, upskilling both their cognitive and critical thinking abilities.


Only then will people, organizations and societies be able to anticipate a reality that is being invented.


Editorial HR

Meta4, with 1,300 customers in 100 countries, manages more than 18 million people worldwide. The company’s R&D&I center located in Spain (Madrid) develops HR applications capable of meeting local and global needs of all types of organizations. The editorial team is made up of professionals with over 15 years of experience in the HR technology field.

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