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Strategies for the new economy: Skills as the currency of the labour market

The qualifications achieved in schools, colleges and universities, the brand of an educational institution or an employer, the social networks of a potential job applicant are all signals currently used to indicate the potential fit between individuals’ capabilities and job opportunities in the labour market. This system of skills proxies contributes to negative outcomes in the economy, to labour market inefficiencies and to social inequalities. It is outdated, based on a traditional life model of ‘learn, do, retire’ which presupposes linear career progressions. This paper presents 10 strategies and 22 case studies that illustrate the range of actions that can be taken by educationalists, education technologists, business leaders and government to shift to a fully skills-based labour market. The strategies can help prepare the labour market for the future of work and build a new foundation for social mobility. They span a range of approaches: realizing the potential of education technology; building and certifying skills across the age range; designing coherent and portable certifications, mapping the skills content of jobs and aligning existing skills taxonomies.