Equipping the Workforce of the Future

This article by Jamira Burley, Head of Youth Engagement and Skills, was originally posted on Chief Learning Officer; the original article can be found here.

The rapid march of emerging technologies has ushered in the Fourth Industrial Revolution and along with it concern from many in business, government and academia about the impact on today’s workers, not to mention the workforce of the future. By 2030, an estimated 1.8 billion youth worldwide will not have the skills or qualifications required to participate in the workforce, according to predictions in a new report by Deloitte Global and the Global Business Coalition for Education (GBC-Education).

“Business has to play a leading role by not only defining and communicating what skills are needed in the future, but also by working side by side with educators, governments and nonprofits to ensure our future employees are receiving the education necessary to compete and succeed,” said Deloitte Global Chairman David Cruickshank.

Four Skills Essential for Success

Titled “Preparing tomorrow’s workforce for the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” the new report found that four skills emerge when looking at what will be required for individuals to succeed in 4IR:

  1. Workforce readiness: Basic skills such as time management, personal presentation and attendance are critical.
  2. Soft skills: As humans increasingly work alongside robots, uniquely human skills, such as creativity, complex problem solving, emotional intelligence and critical thinking, will be irreplaceable by machines.
  3. Technical skills: New employment opportunities are being created through technology. Jobs that are currently going unfilled often require industry-specific technical skills and targeted training.
  4. Entrepreneurship: As the gig economy grows, youths’ ability to be innovative, creative and take initiative to launch new ventures will be critical.

Financial investment alone will not employ 1.8 billion youth. Instead, new system-wide approaches are needed.

Businesses currently make trade-offs between scale and impact, but this research suggests ways to achieve both. It is critical to overcome the challenges of reaching the most marginalized youth, including women and girls who in many parts of the world already face significantly higher rates of unemployment.

Four Recommendations to Bridge the Skills Gap

Within this landscape, following are four key recommendations to address the youth skills gap.

First, align stakeholders’ objectives and approaches. In order to achieve scalable results, businesses need to work with the broader ecosystem, implementing an integrated approach that leverages each group’s strengths and capabilities for impact. This includes coordinating opportunities, identifying gaps in training, finding opportunities for co-investment and sharing information about future talent needs.

Second, engage in public policy. Business has an opportunity — and a responsibility — to help governments prepare policies, rules and regulations that will benefit youth and strengthen our future workforce. Dialogue, advocacy, collaboration and influencing government are key means to drive results.

Third, develop strong talent strategies. Reviewing and adapting current talent strategies will be important to future success, and developing best practices that promote inclusivity and innovation will be critical.

Last, invest in workforce skilling. Employee training can no longer be a “check the box” activity, and businesses need to evaluate, invest and promote workforce training programs strategically so future talent needs and requirements can be met.

GBC-Education will take the recommendations forward through its Youth Skills and Innovation Initiative by establishing an Action Hub, which will share information about programs that are working in the hopes that they can be scaled or easily duplicated.

At the heart of the issue is quality education and training, but there is now a framework for how to address the youth skills gap. Equally important, there’s a broad commitment across stakeholder groups and unlikely allies, led in large part by youth themselves, to bridge that gap.

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