• The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on skills and distance learning, says Allen Blue, co-founder of LinkedIn.
  • The economic consequences will see inequality accelerate.
  • The jobs of the future will be a combination of technical and human skills.

The pandemic has made learning new skills, and the skills we'll need for the future of work, more difficult, says Allen Blue, co-founder of LinkedIn.

"One of the things we've discovered in our work with the World Economic Forum is the importance of remote learning. Delivering skills at a distance is absolutely essential in a time when so much is changing," he said in an interview with the Forum. "And frankly, coming together to learn new things is more difficult."

Access to education is, therefore, vital, he added. "That means basic investments in infrastructure like broadband access and mobile devices."

Learning new skills

A few months ago, Microsoft and LinkedIn announced a global reskilling project with the aim of reskilling 25 million people worldwide.

"We identified several key types of jobs, including data analysts, financial analysts, customer service agents, I.T. support and help-desk personnel, which are accessible to many, many people and provided training programmes in order to help them gain the skills necessary to do those jobs," Blue said.

We need open minds and open eyes about which skills will be important in future though, he added.


What is the World Economic Forum’s Jobs Reset Summit?

The World Economic Forum’s Jobs Reset Summit brings together leaders from business, government, civil society, media and the broader public to shape a new agenda for growth, jobs, skills and equity.

The two-day virtual event, being held on 1-2 June 2021, will address the most critical areas of debate, articulate pathways for action, and mobilize the most influential leaders and organizations to work together to accelerate progress.

The Summit will develop new frameworks, shape innovative solutions and accelerate action on four thematic pillars: Economic Growth, Revival and Transformation; Work, Wages and Job Creation; Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning; and Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice.

Accelerating inequality

Blue also warned about the risks of widening inequality.

"It's a healthcare crisis, but it's also an economic crisis," he said. "The biggest impact is actually going to be the acceleration of inequality." One where the rich get richer - in money, in skills, in connections, he explained.

And, it is these people who will be better placed to navigate the new world we're entering, he said. So, we need to make a commitment, one that returns a sense of equality, of access and of opportunity.

"The pandemic has left us with severe economic consequences. We're essentially living out a world where people who were most underserved, most underrepresented, are being hurt the most within the pandemic."

The jobs of tomorrow

"The jobs of tomorrow are technologically-enabled," said Blue. "But, also extremely human and human-centred."

He explained that, while jobs might be technological - for example a data scientist or artificial intelligence engineer - they might be paired with a saleperson, who knows how to use the technology, or a marketer who understands how AI works.

Allen Blue says the jobs of the future will be a combination of technical and human skills.
A new combination of skills.

"That combination of these human and creative considerations, with the technology which is going to enable those markets and those roles in the future, that's the combination we're really looking at."