Skills and capacity: what does learning need to look like today to prepare the workforce of 2030?

The global labour market in 2015 was characterised by high unemployment, with large numbers of people either unemployed, underemployed or in vulnerable jobs. Women have most difficulty accessing decent work and are under-represented in the labour force. This has occurred despite an accelerating pace of growth in the 21st century. In parallel with the steady rise in unemployment, there has been an increase in skills shortages, particularly for high-skilled, non-routine cognitive jobs.

The markets for skills, whether global or regional, are volatile and subject to rapid change. Some of the changes which are envisaged for the coming 15 years are particularly radical and will require workers to be prepared to change job regularly and to re-skill and update on a continuous basis. Having the skills in demand will not be sufficient in 2030. Learners, workers and would-be entrepreneurs will also need to be able to interpret that labour market. Employers and education institutions can learn from each other’s best practices, to create ‘learning companies’ which support the now continuous need for upskilling and re-training, and ‘entrepreneurial colleges’ which anticipate labour market demand and act on it. All of this is also particularly pertinent for the female labour force. In such a context, this this piece examines what learning need to look like today to prepare the workforce of 2030.

This think piece is part of a series commissioned by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). The purpose of the think piece series is to stimulate international debate on the future direction of education development in low income countries; provide direction for future DFID research priorities; and provide evidence products that can inform policy and programming decisions.


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