Degrees or Competencies? A new job language for the new economy

Degrees or Competencies? A new job language for the new economy

This article is part of the Forum Network series on the New Societal Contract and Digitalisation and reflects on discussions at OECD Forum 2019 in Paris. But it doesn't stop there – wherever you are, become a member of the global Forum Network community to comment below and continue the conversation!

Our economies are facing an immense challenge: high levels of unemployment and a shortage of job seekers with the needed skills. There is also a tremendous gap between the language companies and education providers use to describe skills. The critical question is how can education can really help people get the skills to find a job? Which style of learning can help people to become productive? As addressed by McKinsey, 60% of employers in the United States complain about the lack of preparation for even entry-level jobs, and half of the youth are not sure that their post-secondary education has improved their chances of employment. However, 72% of education providers believe that their new graduates are ready for work.

Image: Territorium Life

There is a big information gap that makes it difficult to begin to understand which learning practices are more promising for developing the critical skills needed in the new economy. There is not a common language to refer to skills between employers and education organisations; students do not have enough data to understand how to close their skill gap. 

Educational public policy and institutions are normally focused on providing more education for more people and/or increasing their graduation rates. For example, studies in Mexico show that in 20 years education has increased more than 30%, but on the other hand productivity has only increased by 7.3%. With this data, it is clear that the most important KPI should be employability.

The educational system is based on credentials and not on skills and that is one of the reasons for this gap. Students normally get degrees and institutions create a curricula and study plan based on the graduation profile for that degree. Now, most businesses are not looking for a degree, they are looking for specific skills. For example, in my company Territorium Life we build software but we are not looking for software engineers: we are looking for good analysts, consultants, software developers and data scientists that know how to work collaboratively and in an organised manner. Nowhere in a degree does it say that a software engineering student is a better analyst or consultant than others. Also, it is not a given that if you take a university course you will develop certain competencies. As we can see, there are several areas of opportunity with this model.

"We believe that education is not only courses but something continuous, like a movie in which someone lives several learning experiences, each of them developing certain competencies that will help you to get a job"

As public policy has been focusing on delivering more education for more people, technology has also focused on that. Online education has been growing by more than 200% in the last three years. It creates very good opportunities to improve education, but we at Territorium believe that technology is ready for more. We believe that education is not only courses but something continuous, like a movie in which someone lives several learning experiences, each of them developing certain competencies that will help you to get a job. The new language for learning is not degrees but skills, and technology can help us to understand how they are developed, and by which learning experiences, as well as those needed by specific jobs and employers.

Image: Territorium Life

Territorium has developed a personalised learning cloud that efficiently links the competencies that an individual achieves through formal and informal learning experiences and the competencies that the job market requires. We are helping educational institutions, governments and businesses to understand and create a common language towards employability. Territorium achieves this by:

  • Creating a complete profile of an individual with evidence of the developed competencies through several learning experiences
  • Connecting with several job board sites to pull data from skills/competencies required in the job market
  • Understanding the gap between the student skills and the ones required through intelligent algorithms
  • Using machine learning, the software recommends an individualised learning path that will help the student to close his/her skills gap. Territorium learns from which learning experiences help the most students to develop particular competencies and therefore to become more employable
  • Showing the evidence of the competencies developed by an individual to the job market
  • Giving feedback to the university/school about the relevance of their programmes to the job market
  • Guiding the student/individual in career choice based on his/her skills
  • Recommending which students have the competencies that an employer is looking for
Image: Territorium Life

For example, the Colegio Nacional de Educación Profesional Técnica in Mexico implemented Territorium and, after two years and working hard with the local business community, it helped to increase the employability rates of the institution by 19%. Another example is the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, the third biggest university in Mexico, with more than 150,000 students using Territorium software to improve skills and develop online programmes related to Industry 4.0 needs.

Over the last three years, we have developed this personalised learning ecosystem creating results for students, institutions, governments and businesses. Technology and artificial intelligence are ready for helping the world to understand the language the will connect skills, people and jobs in the new economy.

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Related Topics

Future of Education & Skills
New Jobs & Occupations OECD Forum 2019

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OECD Forum 2019: World in EMotion

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