Education and Skills

5 leaders on how universities can adapt to the future of learning and work

Published · Updated
The workplace of the future must evolve and education systems must adapt to the changing needs of the labour market and employer expectations.

The workplace of the future must evolve and education systems must adapt to the changing needs of the labour market and employer expectations. Image: Unsplash.

Gayle Markovitz
Acting Head, Written and Audio Content, World Economic Forum
Amy White
Writer, Forum Agenda
Share:

Listen to the article

  • The workplace of the future must adapt to a changing labour market.
  • Digital and technical skills will be in demand, as well as soft skills.
  • Five tech recruiters highlight how universities can play their part.

The world of work is undergoing rapid socio-economic and technological change. Against a backdrop of global disruption, every aspect of life and work has been affected by the pandemic, geopolitical conflict, climate change and a cost-of-living crisis. The workplace of the future must evolve and education systems must adapt to the changing needs of the labour market and employer expectations.

From the Great Resignation to the Reskilling Revolution – one thing is certain, the status quo between education systems and the labour market is undergoing a seismic shift.

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2023 highlights the range of job roles and skills that will increasingly be in demand. According to the report, 69 million jobs will be created in the next five years, driven by new technologies and the green transition. But these gains will be offset by 83 million jobs being put at risk by economic pressures and automation. This means one-quarter of today’s jobs will be disrupted in the next five years.

The Jobs of the Tomorrow paper published this week further maps the potential impact of large language models (LLMs) on jobs, concluding that opportunities are likely to rise fastest for AI ‘trainers’, ‘explainers’ and ‘sustainers’.

So while the Fourth Industrial Revolution continues to change the way we work, it seems soft skills – such as creativity, emotional intelligence, and critical thinking – will be more important than ever in the future of work.

Have you read?

It’s clear that governments, businesses and workers need to foster a culture of lifelong learning to embrace these emerging opportunities – and there is a growing group of leaders and thinkers promoting a “skills first” approach to work.

This means evaluating workers based on their talents and competencies rather than just focusing on previous work experience or academic qualifications. Organizations will need to invest in reskilling and upskilling the workforce. In this new paradigm educational institutions have an opportunity to adapt and evolve to changing recruitment needs.

The landscape of education and employment is ripe for innovation, and leaders in global talent technology companies have their fingers on the pulse of evolving criteria for employability. For universities to stay connected to industry, they too must embrace this opportunity.

In this article, we explore insights from a new breed of recruiters, applying innovative technology to the task of matching people to jobs. They shed light on the need to reshape education, prioritize skill development, and create a future where the value of individuals is appreciated, including traditional qualifications and beyond. Keeping up with the pace of change can help deliver what their clients want.

'Capitalize on skills and experience'

Andreas de Neve, CEO, TechWolf

“To overcome inherent biases, organizations should focus on the skills required to excel in a role with an understanding of a candidate’s potential, rather than a prescriptive approach to career paths or qualifications. Talent managers should keep an open mind to alternative routes to acquiring skills and be aware and attuned to less conventional career paths and the value of diverse life circumstances when assessing potential candidates.

“In developed economies, a typical career path was to attend university, front-load formal accreditations and use that same skill set in the same industry (if not the same company) for the next 40 years. Shifts in technology, global trade, labour markets and other macroeconomic factors mean the job-for-life concept is dwindling in favour of less traditional employment relationships.

“Skill-based training can subvert this traditional approach to looking at a business’s specific needs (e.g. hygiene qualifications, Salesforce training or coding). This can benefit those organizations able to capitalize on skills and experience that the current labour market is demanding. This could include emerging technologies such as AI, as well as culturally driven competencies such as diversity and inclusion.”

'Upskilling is truly where it is'

Ben Wright, Founder and Chairman at Velocity Global

“I'm personally of the belief that upskilling is truly where it is. You can go to a university or college, and you can learn a lot of core and basic skills. You can learn basic coding, you can learn how to work in Excel and you can work how to learn how to write proficiently. But the actual skills to do the job still need to be taught.

“Today, places like Silicon Valley have an advantage are they're being taught oftentimes by professors or people who have already worked in those spaces. And so you are coming out of that education system with a slightly better experience – even if it's by osmosis.”

Loading...

'What needs to happen is evolution'

Sean Hinton, CEO, Skyhive technologies

“Education is having a run for its money, although this is nothing new compared to the last industrial revolution in the early 1900s. What needs to happen is evolution, evolution of credentialing, modelling. But those credentials are in place typically from regulated occupations that are enforcing those credentials. We need to be having engaged conversations across government regulatory bodies, industry associations, as well as academia and other types of training institutions.

“Ultimately, are we able to meet the growing needs of demand, of productivity, of industry? And that answer is either going to be yes or no. If the answer is no, industry will develop its own training and as it develops its own training, issues of quality, issues of equality in terms of who is having the access to that type of training are going to arise.

"Education is fundamental to the socioeconomic fabric of any community. It shouldn't be understated, just as the acquisition of skills or a degree. For all of us who have undertaken any form of education – it provides us agency, a network and lifelong friendships. Education helps us explore who we are as human beings beyond the classroom. I think it's very healthy to be looking at the evolution of education and what it means for society and industry.”

'Real opportunity to rethink the entire landscape'

Sultan Saidov, Co-Founder and President, Beamery

“I definitely think there's a future not just for higher education, but also for the value of in-person learning unless it's online learning. I think it's going to be important for us to adjust what we leverage in-person time for, including in higher education, and also how we think about the curriculum of these things. There's been a lot of talk around the connection of learning and work and how do we think about unbundling what skills we want to teach and some of the top skills that we see emerging as in demand or sunrise skills as it's far too often in areas that are broader, such as, problem solving, creative thinking.

“From the age of five onwards, which of those skills can we really start developing earlier and giving people opportunities to develop earlier? And then how would that impact higher education? Because I think starting at the latter end of education is necessary to a degree today, but it would look different once we're able to reshape the entire journey. That's a massive opportunity, especially as people learn differently at different points in their life. Our brains develop differently. And learning is also not just about what you study, it's what you get exposure to collaborating on. It is a real opportunity to rethink the entire landscape, both in terms of the curriculum and the opportunities to actually apply some of the things that you do.

“It isn't just how somebody is been educated, it's how is somebody been able to develop certain capabilities. You don't have to even have gone through formal education to be really good at a problem solving or really good a creative thinking. Higher education isn't just about the courses, it's about the kind of experiences that it provides and certain ways of collaborating with people, etc.”

'A future where everyone's value is appreciated'

Nicole Sahin, Founder, CEO & Chair, G-P | Global Made Possible

“The question is, are traditional university degrees as important to our customers right now as they potentially should be or as they will be in the future? The vast majority of our customers, which are usually high growth technology companies or people who are seeking white collar professional labour around the globe, are still very much relying on resumes where someone worked. What have they done historically and what schools have they gone to, for example? However, there's a new trend which is around skills based hiring, and it's something I'd love to explore more as the future of work is upon us. And scarcity of talent is so much more evident. It doesn't really matter if you got a four year college degree anymore.

“What we see is that really smart people can educate themselves through online materials like Coursera. I heard about a refugee from the Ukraine who spent 160 hours on Coursera software in about four months. It was just an insane amount of certifications that this person took because he was highly motivated and he wanted to be able to work elsewhere in the EU, needed access to English language skills, needed technical, technological development skills, and ultimately self-trained in such an extraordinary capacity.

“A degree is not necessarily what companies are looking for. And I think that being able to assess the skill someone's brings to the job both opens up the talent pool and also opens up the labour market. And so much more opportunity for everyone, everywhere in a future where everyone's value is appreciated.”

Loading...
Related topics:
Education and SkillsJobs and the Future of Work
Share:
Contents
'Capitalize on skills and experience''Upskilling is truly where it is''What needs to happen is evolution''Real opportunity to rethink the entire landscape''A future where everyone's value is appreciated'

About Us

Events

Media

Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum