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November 1, 2012

Unlearn to Learn

To date every year I have found much ado about the placement seasons at premier campuses. Found news of companies hiring good number of freshers, year after year. These organizations are dedicating man-hours planning for campus hiring, on boarding of the selected rookies, charting out months of training schedule for them & eventually placing them in respective departments and keenly observing their performance. Why do we go to such lengths to hire inexperienced rookies and invest heavily on them with the hope of returns which might come only after almost half a year? We have B-Schools of A and A+ grade declaring 100% placement in just the first few days of the placement season and companies visiting the premier campuses with pleasantly plump pay packages.


The answer might lie in this simple yet powerful statement of the famous futurist Alvin Tofler


The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”


The corporate world is dynamic; new processes, technology, changing customer and stakeholders psyche are just a few factors responsible for this. Experienced hands would have great insights into the processes and organization culture but to have them change with the changing business needs is not a cake walk. Citing an example here, the social networking skills was not a prerequisite when hiring in marketing but in present times how well you are able to engage your audiences online, especially on the social networking sites does matter. For the Y generation being on these platforms is a necessity, we have this generation continuously hooked onto their smart phones and notepads and they take to this particular KRA like a fish to the water. Those bright minds in computer languages, handpicked from premier institutes about a decade back would not be a great resource to do wonders with the latest computer languages. We would need to hire fresh minds that are willing to learn and build upon their theoretical exposure in classrooms.


Does that indicate that those with years of experience in their kitty are just not good enough when business needs change? Not at all, there contributions would have a great impact on the bottom line, provided they are willing to learn new things as per the changing requirement and unlearn, or rather temporarily forget the learning which no longer holds acceptance. Learning is a continuous process and it definitely does not have an age or rank bar. And unlearning does not mean erasing everything from your past learning, this is unquestionably not a possibility, unlearning rather means forgetting the way things used to be done which no longer hold ground in present times. It is human tendency that we avoid change as long as the present circumstances don’t make us unduly uncomfortable. Pushed to a corner and forced to adopt new skills sets & methodologies, the experience might not be great enough to write back home about. But for those enlightened souls who realize that industries all across would go through phases of learning, unlearning and relearning and so would its human resource, acceptance comes easy.


Organizations contribute by articulating the need to unlearn and then aiding relearning through skill enhancement programs. The human resource team can subtly assess the competencies of individuals and gauze their readiness for learning new skills, innovative methodologies and basically moving to the next level. Experience and organizational memory are valuable intangible assets and their value would depreciate only if we are unwilling to clear the memory space for fresh ideas and methods.

Tags : Learn, Campus rectruitment, new talent, talent acquisition, existing employees, organizational policies, tarinig

About Nivedita

Nivedita has almost six years of experience in the HR domain. In her current role with an IT company, she manages the talent acquisition and talent management initiatives of the organization. She has been honored a Master’s degree in Business Administration with a specialization in Human Resources. She began her career in 2005 and has been working in the different domains of Human Resources ever since.