By 2022 we will all need an extra 101 days of learning

“By 2022 everyone will need an extra 101 days of learning”. Quite a thought-provoking statement, made by the World Economic Forum in their ‘The Future of Jobs Report 2018’.

101 days of learning

Driven by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, change is everywhere and it is having an impact on everything, including the future of work. A significant evolution of the labour market is forecast over the next 10 years, and we do not yet fully know all the jobs of the future.

Given the hyper-transformation of technology, business models and work, it is important to understand and anticipate what this means for youth, society, businesses and government. Everyone needs an opportunity to participate in the digital economy. We need to invest in a new way of acquiring the skills needed for jobs – a model that allows for continuous, renewable skills development. And create more days of learning.

Imagine a future where educational institutions, employers and individuals work together in an entirely new way. They together provide the foundation for continues learning, ensuring continuous employability, so that everyone can participate in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

In this model, universities play the role of orchestrators in the talent ecosystem – which includes community colleges, vocational institutions, online course providers, boot camps, project-based work and entrepreneurial challenges. Together, they create new relationships with employers and industry in their local areas to provide relevant skilled talent for everything from one project, to short-term or long-term employment.

Private sector organisations partner with faculty and share strategy, so all parties have a common understanding of the required skills that are driving the future of work. Universities and companies have a symbiotic relationship in which universities provide talent from their ecosystem and employers focus on new technologies and market development.

Students choose a university not just for the degree or faculty, but because of the ecosystem of employers, projects and experiences they can access. Students have an integrated, affordable and accessible way to learn for life, with rich educational opportunities at any stage of learning – or entry point – of one’s career development.

Learning is a journey that never ends

Some universities and organisations have already taken a step in this direction. Several universities, for example, have strong existing relationships with community colleges for matriculation, and work with local community partners for entrepreneurial and workforce training experiences. Other universities partner with companies to supply talent or offer internship opportunities.

On the private sector side, some companies help their employees with degree obtainment and skills development for future roles, either through universities or Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Companies are also creating industry-relevant curricula and certifications delivered through educational institutions. Cisco Networking Academy, for example, helps students from a range of backgrounds and life stages – from university students to former prisoners, people with diverse abilities, and people seeking to pivot careers – to develop digital skills. Over the past 20 years, this programme has supported nearly 9.3 million students across the globe.

These efforts are unlikely to be enough to keep up with the demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Companies and educational institutions can lead the way in helping to create a more inclusive future by transitioning from traditional models and coming together to inspire perpetual learning. Not only can we prepare people with the right skills and help them participate in the digital economy, but we can collectively help ensure that no one is left behind. The new days of learning are about to start.

Read also: And the mismatch continues
Mismatch between education and working

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