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It’s learning. Just not as we know it: How to accelerate skills acquisition in the age of intelligent technologies

It’s a race between education and technologies. Blockchain, AI and advanced biosciences promise new efficiencies and growth opportunities at a time when leading economies are struggling with weak productivity gains and, in some cases, slow GDP growth. But it’s easier said than done. Industrial age education and training systems put these economic opportunities at risk. If skill-building doesn’t catch up with the rate of technological progress, the G20 economies could lose up to US$11.5 trillion in cumulative GDP growth in the next ten years. That’s equivalent to losing more than an entire percentage point from the average annual growth rate every year over that period. For this report, we look through the lens of the future worker – from the shop floor to the boardroom, from the shop front to the back office – and we identify their evolving skills demand. We analyze the changing importance of skills to different roles and the impact of intelligent technologies. Contrary to conventional wisdom, this is not about technological skills. It is about cultivating the full range of skills, from the creative to the complex cognitive capabilities that the future workforce will need. Our diagnosis: Current education and corporate learning systems are not equipped to address the coming revolution in skills demand. The challenge is especially urgent for roles that are more vulnerable to dislocation through intelligent automation. The impact is uneven across economies and industries, demanding targeted interventions. Our proposed solutions: Learning with experiential techniques, shifting the focus from institutions to individuals and empowering the most vulnerable people to learn. Advances in the science of learning, paired with new technologies, allow pioneering businesses to offer new approaches to learning. The challenge? Accelerating their adoption across all organizations, large and small, and throughout education systems in the G20 economies.