Future of society

Upskilling and Reskilling: Learning new skills will be part of our daily routine

Upskilling and Reskilling: Learning new skills will be part of our daily routine

What is called lifelong learning, will be incorporated into our way of life: there will be a change of mentality where learning new skills will be inherent to the dizzying pace of changes that we live.

After holding our Future Trends Forum think tank on the future of work, we have organized a series of webinars that analyze the main challenges, opportunities and innovations around this topic. 

In the second webinar, The future of work: education for tomorrow, we had the participation of the education experts, Alper Utku, President of the European Leadership University and Jeff Selingo, advisor to universities and companies on the future of work and education and renowned author, who have discussed the skills that will be essential in the work of the future. 

Led by the Bankinter Innovation Foundation manager, Juan Moreno, these two experts provide us with ideas about the main trends in education to face the challenges of future work

Here’s a summary of these ideas: 

New skills for new ways of working 

According to Alper, the training needs of the workforce are summarized in two key concepts: 

– Upskilling, that is, professional recycling. 

– Reskilling, that is, learning new skills. 

And it is a generalized phenomenon for all industries and for all professional levels. In fact, this expert tells us that in 2025 at least 50% of all professionals in the world will need reskilling programs, referring to the report The Future of Jobs of the World Economic Forum. 

Among the new skills, learning to work with machines as new work colleagues – when we say “machines” we mean both physical robots and computer programs based on Artificial Intelligence algorithms- becomes essential. 

For this, as Jeff also points out, there are two types of skills needed: 

  • Those that allow us to understand and take advantage of machines, that is, STEM skills (an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). 
  • Those that allow us to excel over machines, which are the so-called social skills or soft skills. According to the World Economic Forum, critical thinking and problem solving top the list of skills that companies think will grow in importance in the next five years. Active learning, resilience, stress tolerance, and flexibility are also among the most necessary skills. 

How are these new skills acquired? 

It is not just about signing up for an online course, reading a manual or taking a Master’s degree. It takes time and practice in a given social context. New skills cannot be acquired exclusively on an individual and cognitive basis, but require a social and experiential environment. This is what the University led by Alper, the ELU, calls full-stack education

What will be the most demanded profiles? 

For our experts, the key is to become a “data scientist”, that is, to be able to access data, explore it, prepare it, and visualize it to draw valuable conclusions, regardless of our university education and our role in the company. And, at the same time, have knowledge in various fields that allow holistic views of problems to be able to provide innovative solutions to them. In this sense, they coincide with the postulates of the book ‘Range’ by David Epstein. In his book, Epstein explains why a “T-shaped” person (a “T-Shaped individual” that Jeff talks about), with a broad knowledge base on many topics, is often more innovative and takes better decisions within his area of expertise. 

A broad knowledge encourages a person to make connections, think laterally, and avoid groupthink from other experts in his field. This thinking is particularly important in solving what Epstein calls “wicked” problems; problems that are unique, complex, and not subject to rules. This describes many of the most important problems out there and contrasts with “kind” problems, which have well-defined rules and are repeatable (and therefore capable of being automated). 

Human-machine collaboration 

According to the report mentioned by Alper, it is estimated that by 2025, 85 million jobs could be displaced by a change in the division of labor between humans and machines. But, at the same time, 97 million new jobs can emerge adapted to the new division of labor between humans, machines and algorithms. 

In any case, both Alper and Jeff do not believe that machines will replace people. They will replace the routine tasks that people do today and help them to do their work in a more creative and innovative way. Cases like the one mentioned by Jeff, Jill Watson, a virtual automatic assistant for students of the prestigious North American university Georgia Tech, created from its GVU Center, which obtained better evaluations than its human peers, suggest that what we understand by “routine tasks” need to be redefined. 

Returning to the previous point, the most demanded profiles will be those who can collaborate both with machines (hard skills) and with people (soft skills), and who have a broad knowledge base, capable of creating the best conditions to contribute the most innovative solutions in an agile way. 

What should the education of the future be like? 

Online courses, micro credentials, on-demand training, MOOC, are increasingly used concepts, but we are still in a very embryonic stage of what the educational system of the future should be. To begin with, it is necessary to solve the problem of who recognizes credentials and degrees and how this recognition is made universal

An open system is needed, agreed between all the agents involved (universities and training centers, companies, public administration, professionals) and that works in a transparent way

Experts point to Blockchain as the base technology that could facilitate this new educational system. 

From the students and professionals’ point of view, Jeff tells us that there is a need to create skills maps for jobs, which also inform where they can be acquired. That is, associate each job or function with a map of necessary skills and how to acquire them. 

On the other hand, Alper points out the need to create learning communities, so as to include the part of experimentation and social relationship that is not widespread today. 

On the other hand, Alper points out the need to create learning communities, so as to include the part of experimentation and social relationship that is not widespread today. 

A tip to face the future of education 

We are living in times of change, accelerated by the pandemic, very promising, where very attractive possibilities open up in the short term – two to three years -: We will see much-needed changes in how we work, how we learn and how we interact. 

To address these changes in the most positive way, Jeff and Alper recommend that we practice our agility in acquiring new knowledge and skills, that we should challenge ourselves to master subjects that we do not master, that we should force ourselves to leave our comfort zone.  

If you want to see the webinar, here it is: 

Also recommended

The Changemaker effect: social innovation as a driver of change

The Changemaker effect: social innovation as a driver of change

We interviewed Henry De Sio, one of the great boosters of the huge social innovation development worldwide.

Read more
Gene editing overtakes nature: it’s time to create better crops

Gene editing overtakes nature: it’s time to create better crops

Can new agricultural gene-editing techniques provide solutions to the climate crisis and feed humanity?

Read more
Corporations: New organization and new spaces

Corporations: New organization and new spaces

To adapt to the challenge of the future of work, corporations must redesign their organization and create new workspaces[…]

Read more

Related experts

Alper Utku
Alper Utku

Fundador de European Leadership University

Jeff Selingo
Jeff Selingo

Strategic advisor to universities worldwide

Últimas noticias

The Changemaker effect: social innovation as a driver of change

The Changemaker effect: social innovation as a driver of change

We interviewed Henry De Sio, one of the great boosters of the huge social innovation development worldwide.

Read more
What is the metaverse, the alternative virtual reality from which we will never disconnect?

What is the metaverse, the alternative virtual reality from which we will never di[...]

Zuckerberg’s metaverse is being heralded as the “next thing” after social networks, although it will have to compete[…]

Read more
Law and Artificial Intelligence

Law and Artificial Intelligence

This field has two aspects:
apply law to artificial intelligence or apply artificial intelligence to law

Read more

Eventos relacionados

Educación para el mañana

Educación para el mañana

Estamos experimentando cambios en el trabajo. Los trabajadores se enfrentan a nuevos retos como adquirir nuevas habil[…]

Read more