Emerging Technologies

4 ways public-private partnerships can bridge the AI opportunity gap

88% of workers expect to use AI daily by 2028 – but how will they learn the necessary skills?

88% of workers expect to use AI daily by 2028 – but how will they learn the necessary skills? Image: Getty Images

Jeff Maggioncalda
Chief Executive Officer, Coursera
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Future of Work

This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting
  • Public and private partnerships will be at the heart of the reskilling revolution needed for the era of generative Artificial Intelligence (AI).
  • Upskilling will bring employees higher salaries and unlock productivity gains for companies.
  • AI itself will facilitate personalized learning to bring the workforce up to speed.

Generative AI (genAI) will transform nearly every job, making it essential for everyone to learn new skills.

The shift highlights a pressing gap: those with the access and abilities to acquire AI skills and those without them. Public and private partnerships, as a core thrust of the reskilling revolution, will be more critical than ever in preparing 1 billion people for an AI-driven world. The good news is that even though AI is creating unprecedented disruption, it will also be a central part of the solution.

Here are four ways the public and private sectors can mitigate the human cost of AI disruption and create more equal opportunities for everyone:

1. Upskill your workforce to enhance productivity

Organizations are reimagining their entire systems and processes using genAI. A recent Amazon study reveals that by 2028, 88% of workers expect to use AI in their daily tasks. Upskilling not only benefits employees, who could earn up to 47% higher salaries but also enables companies to tap into potential productivity gains of approximately $4.4 trillion, as estimated by McKinsey.

However, the focus shouldn’t be on providing training content alone. Effective collaboration between department and HR and people leaders is essential for developing structured, role-based learning pathways that not only incentivize employees to hone vital skills but also unlock the full potential of technology within the organization.

Have you read?

Three out of four HR and learning and development (L&D) leaders report that executive leadership has prioritized L&D investments to ensure their technology ambitions are successful.

The urgency is clear: AI expert Andrew Ng recently launched Generative AI for Everyone, and it became the most popular course of 2023 on Coursera, with 65,000 learners enrolled in the first two weeks. Partners such as DeepLearning.AI and Vanderbilt have helped build the GenAI Academy to provide executive and foundational literacy training to workforces around the globe.

Public and private actors must come together to fill the AI skills gap.
Public and private actors must come together to fill the AI skills gap. Image: World Economic Forum

2. Provide reskilling pathways to create new opportunities for impacted workers

The World Economic Forum's Future of Jobs Report 2023 indicates that 61% of workers will require retraining by 2027. Therefore, governments, businesses and educational institutions must work together to understand how job roles are changing and create learning and career pathways. These pathways should be aligned to evolving job roles and support the region's economic imperatives.

Digital skills are particularly crucial since they provide the foundation for a digital economy and propel the development of more advanced AI applications.

Industry micro-credentials from companies like Google, Microsoft, and IBM have emerged as an effective tool for institutions to address unemployment and rapidly prepare individuals for accessible, in-demand digital careers in areas such as IT support, cybersecurity and project management. Saudi Arabia’s MCIT and UNDP Arab States offer these professional certificates for free through their national initiatives to equip citizens across the Middle East with the skills necessary to thrive in the new economy. The University of Texas System offers these professional certificates to all current students, faculty and staff.

3. Provide education from trusted experts to mitigate misinformation and bias

In an era where AI-generated content is proliferating, the risk of misinformation and bias is real. So, high-quality training content from trusted educational institutions is more important than ever. Poor training risks embedding inequity, bias and misinformation into AI systems.

Leading AI authorities have created courses to help leaders understand the inherent potential and risks of genAI that are often lost in misinformed hype. Courses such as Prompt Engineering for ChatGPT from Vanderbilt University and Introduction to Responsible AI from Google Cloud aim to provide a balanced view of AI's capabilities and limitations. Additionally, ACE and ECTS Credit Recommendations for industry micro-credentials provide stakeholders with an additional layer of assurance: simplifying credit recognition for universities, increasing employer trust in applicants' skills, and reassuring learners that their educational investment will be recognized. System-wide initiatives from the Kazakhstan MSHE and the University of Texas System offer innovative blueprints for governments that are mandated to upgrade their higher education systems to better prepare youth for future jobs.

4. Going beyond access to create more personalized learning experiences for diverse populations

AI will be both a disruptor and an enabler. When used ethically and effectively, it can transform the learning experience, making it more personalized and interactive – something traditional on-campus education has struggled to achieve at scale. For instance, Coursera Coach, powered by genAI and grounded in expert content, offers personalized assistance and feedback, adapting to different languages and educational levels.

As emerging technologies create new skill requirements and labour forces become more globalized, language barriers impede collaboration, productivity and economic opportunity.

AI has allowed us to break down the language barrier by translating over 4,000 courses and 35 industry micro-credentials into 17 languages, including Spanish, Arabic and German, making learning more accessible to millions worldwide. Global organizations like Atlas can now boost employee engagement and productivity with consistent training across their distributed multilingual workforce. Governments and higher education institutions can offer job training programmes in critical areas like STEM, AI and digital skills in local languages, enabling their workforce to apply for opportunities anywhere in the world.

Public-private partnerships are instrumental in navigating the opportunities and challenges presented by AI. By intensifying our focus on reskilling and upskilling initiatives, training from trusted institutions and embracing AI-enhanced learning experiences, we can maximize the remarkable potential of genAI for our society and the broader world.

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Emerging TechnologiesForum InstitutionalJobs and the Future of Work
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