Staying One Step Ahead of Innovation: How to future-proof education for the digital economy

To address the digital skills gap, there is a global imperative for both traditional education and corporate learning programmes to reimagine knowledge sharing and their approach to teaching. Fostering a multi-stakeholder collaboration framework will be key. Banner: Shutterstock/3rdtimeluckystudio
Staying One Step Ahead of Innovation: How to future-proof education for the digital economy
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Building a resilient recovery: Emerging stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic

The pace of innovation—the speed at which technology is advancing—always seems to increase. The rate of change results in both opportunity and risk for businesses as they seek to evolve and attract new talent. Advances in technology are at the forefront of this change, connecting us globally and altering the way we live, work and learn.

Our introduction to new technologies sometimes happens organically as they become ubiquitious in our lives, such as learning to use a personal computer or a smartphone or honing the skill of accessing information on the internet. Other technical skills require formalised education, or personal motivation to take online courses or join online technical communities where knowledge is shared for the benefit of others.

Upskilling and reskilling programmes are vital in the digital economy, though digital skills acquisition is still one of the biggest challenges for workers. 

It is also incumbent upon businesses to provide training for employees on platforms and tools to increase productivity and improve resilience. Upskilling and reskilling programmes are vital in the digital economy, though digital skills acquisition is still one of the biggest challenges for workers. According to a recent study published by Korn Ferry, the global talent deficit may reach 85 million in 2030, causing a loss of almost USD 8.5 trillion in unrealised revenues.

The talent deficit is also not limited to particular generations or workers of certain backgrounds. While we may perceive the newest generations of the workforce as digital natives with competency in operating the latest technologies, recent research reveals that these workers lack an understanding of technologies such as cybersecurity and artificial intelligence (AI), as well as how they are impacting the job market.

Nurturing digital skills

Powerful technologies underlying business functions and the rapid pace of innovation. To address the digital skills gap, there is now a global imperative for both traditional education and corporate learning programmes to reimagine knowledge sharing and their approach to teaching.

In an ideal future, current and future workers will benefit from cohesive partnerships between universities and colleges, corporations, industry associations, nonprofits, and government organisations. Fostering such a multi-stakeholder collaboration framework offers the widest potential to train the maximum amount of people in emerging technologies, such as AI, automation, big data, cybersecurity and cloud computing.

More on the Forum Network: Micro-credentials: The new frontier of adult education and training, by James Robson, Deputy Director of Centre for Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance, Oxford University
More on the Forum Network: Micro-credentials: The new frontier of adult education and training, by James Robson, Deputy Director of Centre for Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance, Oxford University
How is the demand for micro-credentials increasing during the COVID-19 crisis, and what are the values and risks they bring to the working world? 

Today, nurturing both basic and advanced digital skills requires different tactics and adjustments for more immediate impact. Steps that these organisations can take today include: 

  • Adopt training programmes for school and career counselors that focus on the role of technology and the future of work, to successfully guide students to meet the current and upcoming labor market needs
  • Set up Employer Advisory Boards to gather real-time recruitment needs and foster knowledge sharing, collaboration and partnerships between employers and outside institutions, to facilitate higher employability rates
  • Develop and share online approaches to learning and education, such as self-led training on specific tools and technologies, role-based learning, lifelong learning, industry-sponsored courses, and certifications
  • Build a culture of in inclusion and diversity in science and technology, and nurture self-confidence in young people

Companies that invest in building communities of learning will also be at the forefront of innovation and growing digital skills. Many contribute courses to online learning platforms, which allow those either already in the workforce or preparing to enter it to gain relevancy and competency in the digital economy. Online communities around specific technologies, such as automation, also provide exposure to peers and tutors who can facilitate learning.

Creating digital leaders

Businesses that couple their digital transformation investments with technical and soft-skills training for their employees—creating roadmaps for in-demand job roles and career development—will be the most successful at retaining and attracting talent. One study of global office workers found that 91% believe their employers should be more willing to invest in digital and technology training skills for their employees to be successful in the future of work. Knowledgeable, trained and productive employees will be the greatest differentiator companies can strive for.

Organisations must collaborate to foster the ability for workers to access emerging and transformative technologies.

The future of work will be more self-reliant and more automated than today. Research firm IDC states that by 2024 the business developer role will be ubiquitous, with more than 60% of enterprises training and supporting business users to build their own applications and automated processes using low-code tools. IDC also purports that, driven by skills shortages, chief information officers that invest in digital adoption platforms and automated learning technologies will see a 40% increase in productivity by 2025, delivering greater speed to expertise.

In a highly digital environment—where technical skills, leadership skills and lifelong learning become interdependent—organisations must collaborate to foster the ability for workers to access emerging and transformative technologies.







Our world of work is rapidly changing and pressuring us to keep up. So how can we adapt? Learn more on the OECD's Future of Work Hub

Check out the OECD's Future of Work initiative, which examines the impacts of megatrends digitalisation and  globalisation on the labour market.

 

And tune in to the OECD Digital Economy Ministerial Meeting, taking place on 13-15 December 2022 

And tune in to the OECD Digital Economy Ministerial Meeting, taking place on 13-15 December 2022 

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