The biggest obstacle faced by most economies is the yawning skill gap, which could be responsible for as much as US$ 11.5 trillion of losses in global GDP by 2028.
Educational institutes and training centers are racing to keep pace with the rapidly evolving technologies, but that isn’t enough. What is needed is a wide-scale skilling program that equips students and professionals with the right combination of perishable, semi-durable and durable skills.
With the arrival of the fourth industrial revolution, there have been huge advances in disruptive technologies like Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, etc, leading to there has been a large focus on filling the technical skill gap :
- Emerging technologies: IoT, AI, Blockchain, etc
- Cloud infrastructure/cloud apps
- Cyber security
- Software development
- Data management / data analytics
Countries have focused heavily on training more engineers, producing more data scientists and increasing the number of UI and UX designers. Over the last few years, there has also been a spurt of institutions providing cohort-based modules in specialized skills in technology and design.
Despite the overwhelming importance of technical skills, we have to bear in mind that these skills are perishable, at best semi-durable skills, which get replaced as the field grows, expands, and evolves.
While this might be important to equip students and professionals with the technical skills needed to keep up with the fourth industrial revolution it isn’t enough. Studies have shown that technical skills have a life of about 2.5 years, after which they lose relevance, and have to be rebuilt. Now take that fact and marry it to the long cycles required to update curriculum, and what you get is a large majority of colleges and universities that are imparting outdated knowledge to students.
Jobs and roles have evolved in a way that necessitates acquisition of multiple skills. Top employers across the world are seeking candidates with more durable, human skills. In fact, the skills mismatch is also visible in other skills such as digital literacy, complex reasoning, creative thinking, teamwork & leadership, and even communication skills.
The existing approach focuses heavily on the acquisition of specialized skills and ignores the other skills, which has led to several problems:
Marginalisation of non-technical workforce, which is largely composed of women. Rapid advances in technology have pushed women even further to the margins, making the gender gap wider.
The extreme focus on specialized technical skills has also led to the widening of the existing gap in basic digital skills, which are required in more than 80 % of middle-skills jobs today.
Finally, almost all existing upskilling programs ignore individual skills and aspirations, applying a one-shoe-fits-all approach to everyone, irrespective of their learner profile.
It is our collective responsibility to ensure that students and professionals are provided the right training programs to future-proof their career. PWC’s Upskilling for Shared Prosperity report highlights that providing the right skills training programs will not only increase productivity, but also enhance job creation, especially mid-rung, well paid jobs, which will in turn reduce wage-based disparities due to the skills gap.
The ability to learn and acquire new skills through out their professional life will equip them to acquire the other skills required to succeed in their chosen career. Coupled with the 4 Cs, this will help us prepare a future-ready workforce, capable to handling any disruptions brought on by technology, socio-economic changes, or even a global pandemic.
- Generation Jobless: JA Worldwide
- Closing the Skills Gap:Key Insights and Success Metrics: World Economic Forum
- Closing the Skills Gap Accelerators: World Economic Forum
- Digital Skills Gap: Burning Glass
- Bridging the Skills Gap in the Future Workforce: Accenture
- The 21st Century Skills Gap: QS
- Employer Perspectives on Workforce Development: Brookings Edu
- Pandemic has accelerated digital upskilling, but key groups still miss out: PWC
- Upskilling the global workforce is key to stimulating the economic recovery from COVID-19: PWC