An Emerging Landscape of Skills for All

To create a learning infrastructure that enables a more equitable workforce, corporations must take bold steps.

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The Future of Workplace Learning

To meet the needs of a rapidly evolving, skill-centered economy, organizations must shift their thinking when it comes to workplace learning. This MIT SMR Executive Guide explores how business leaders across functions can work together to make transformational learning a reality.

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Escalator of Continued Business Learning

Developing the skills and infrastructure for lifelong learning was at the top of my agenda before the pandemic. But as the general economic fallout from the pandemic and the impact on jobs and job displacement become clearer, the issues of upskilling and reskilling are also moving up the agenda for corporations and executives across the world. Governments play a role here, as we have seen in the case of Singapore, which offers a model for government-sponsored initiatives aimed at promoting skill development and lifelong learning. But the corporate role is vital. That’s in part because the experience of work itself is a major developer of skills, and corporations have an intimate view of skill requirements. In some cases, they also have a finely honed way of developing skills. Indeed, in a recent survey, 94% of business leaders said they expect their employees to pick up new skills on the job (which represents a sharp uptick from 65% in 2018).

But a particular nuance of this skills challenge is shifting the balance of initiatives and resources to where they are needed most. Right now, skill development programs are well established for highly skilled jobs. That’s not enough — the significantly larger proportion of often lower-skilled and lower-paid jobs requires more skill development. These jobs are typically the most vulnerable to automation and are where churn will most likely take place. It’s no surprise executives estimate that, on average, roughly 40% of workers will require reskilling of six months or less. Importantly, for those in lower-paid work, the transitions associated with this churn are particularly hard, since they require access to often scarce resources — time, money, and attention.

As a humanistic psychologist, I start from the position that most adults (whatever their pay grade) are motivated to learn and develop skills in order to build resilience against current challenges and guard against future shocks. They do this by investing time and resources (sometimes significant amounts of both) to upskill in their current job — or, better still, they reskill in the hope and anticipation of securing a better, higher-value job. As Matt Sigelman, CEO of the labor market platform company Burning Glass Technologies, recently remarked to me, “People have an irrepressible desire and ability to move up.

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Topics

The Future of Workplace Learning

To meet the needs of a rapidly evolving, skill-centered economy, organizations must shift their thinking when it comes to workplace learning. This MIT SMR Executive Guide explores how business leaders across functions can work together to make transformational learning a reality.

Brought to you by

Skillsoft
More in this series

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Comment (1)
Jadson C. Santos
The so-called Lifelong Learning has never been more important and valued. Today, we have a more democratic learning system. Platforms such as Coursera and Edx bring knowledge from major universities and organizations to any worker's day-to-day (with the unique need for a computer or smartphone and access to the internet). 
We are living in challenging and also in great opportunities times.