The World Economic Forum’s January 2021 Insight Report is worth reading!
In their report on ‘Upskilling for shared prosperity’ WEF makes a strong case for accelerated upskilling.

Multiple reports from reputable sources have stated that our skills will be irrelevant 5 years from now. As we have all experienced, COVID-19 has accelerated digitalisation and automation. This has emphasised the need for renewed and comprehensive upskilling agendas. There is not one single party that is exclusively responsible for facilitating this process.  Governments, businesses and individuals need to take steps to upskill and reskill within the context of life long learning.

To quote a small section from the WEF report:
“Businesses: Anchor upskilling and workforce investment as a core business principle and make time-bound pledges to act:

  • Develop a clear ‘people plan’, using a people-centric approach in which technology is aligned to the needs of workers and society.
  • Make long-term commitments to upskilling employees
  • Promote multidisciplinary collaboration (with diversity of perspectives) across internal and external stakeholders
  • Work with labour representatives to ensure good jobs and agree to worker’s forums and common standards”

“Education providers: Embrace the future of work as a source of reinvention to normalise lifelong learning for all. 

  • Prioritise vocational and higher education curricula that are ‘just in time” rather than ‘just in case’, working with business
  • Scale up the provision of self-directed learning and nano-degrees for lifelong learning
  • Build bridges between national qualification systems and lifelong learning so skills are recognized globally
  • Connect schools and places of learning with each other globally”

A few words on the first bullet regarding education providers:
Belonging to this group, I can say that this is a highly valid point. The lazy option of delivering standard programmes to people across  sectors and markets should never be an option. The insights shared should be highly relevant and tailored to local needs. Get it right and people will be able to apply new knowledge and skills instantly. On the other hand, educating based on a ‘just in case strategy’ is likely to result in people being overqualified in some areas and underqualified in more crucial areas. Overqualified employees are found to be more likely to lose motivation because their new skills are underutilised.

On a final note; we must keep in mind that business transformation and workforce transformation are inseparable for sustainable results.

Janet Poot