When Frederick Taylor published his pioneering principles of scientific management in 1912, the repetitive and mundane nature of most jobs required employees to think as little as possible. Breaking down each task into basic components and standardizing workers’ behaviors to eliminate choice and flexibility could help managers turn employees into productive machines, albeit with alienated spirits.Fast forward to the present and we see that most jobs today demand the exact opposite from employees: the capacity to keep learning and developing new skills and expertise, even if they are not obviously linked to one’s current job. As academic reviews have pointed out, people’s employability – their ability to gain and maintain a desired job – no longer depends on what they already know, but on what they are likely to learn.In other words, higher career security is a function of employability, and that in turn depends on learnability. Thus Eric Schmidt notes that a major pillar in Google’s recruitment strategy is to hire “learning animals,” while EY recruiters observe that “to be a standout, candidates need to demonstrate technical knowledge in their discipline, but also a passion for asking the kind of insightful questions that have the power to unlock deeper insights and innovation for our clients.”Sadly, most organizations have yet to wake up to this reality, so they continue to pay too much attention to academic qualifications and hard skills, as if what entry-level employees had learned during university actually equipped them for today’s job market. Although learnability does boost academic performance, just because someone is job-ready when they obtain their educational credentials does not mean that they are also learning-ready.
Ask Americans which state is the greenest, most unspoiled, most eco-conscious place in the country, and a lot of people would probably say Hawaii. So it may come as a surprise to learn that Hawaii is actually the most oil-dependent state in the nation. Because it’s unreachable by trains or pipelines, the state spends $5 billion a year importing oil. As recently as 2003, more than 90 percent of their electricity came from foreign oil. That’s not just bad for the environment; it’s bad for consumers: Hawaii residents pay the highest electricity rates in the nation.That could all soon be changing, however. Thanks to sweeping legislation adopted last year, Hawaii has set a goal to become the first state in the country to generate 100 percent of its electricity from renewable energy resources. If it’s successful — the 100 percent goal has a deadline of 2045 — Hawaii would move from worst to first on clean energy. To call the plan ambitious would be an understatement. Getting to a completely renewable portfolio requires not only new investments and new technologies, but also a complete overhaul of the energy industry in the state. But the truth is that Hawaii has already made notable strides in reducing its dependence on fossil fuels. Thanks to a committed effort over the past 15 years, the state has decreased its dependence on oil by about 20 percentage points from that 2003 high.