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The Future of Work and Education: How Governments can Create a More Systematic and Rigorous Approach to Skills Training

The future of work
The future of work
  • Identify and prioritize the skills gaps

  • Plan to manage a fragmented and fast changing educational delivery landscape

  • Regulate with agility based on sectoral needs


The mismatch of people with jobs is a problem that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating impact on labor mobility and unemployment. The ILO estimates global unemployment could increase by 140 million full time jobs. Now more than ever therefore, the priority for governments must be to identify the key sectors for growth, assess the potential of its workforce to meet the talent demand, evaluate the cost benefits of upskilling, and introduce practical measures that activate employers, educators and learners.

This paper proposes that this response needs to be sector specific and scientific in its approach, to ensure that upskilling is cost effective and auditable. Assessment of learning outcomes also needs to be more rigorous, to ensure the “last mile” of the upskilling initiative, i.e. the actual acquisition of the skill gap identified, is achieved. Formal qualifications, if designed with the target population in mind, are a proven mechanism for both motivating learners and providing a greater degree of assurance for employers that a qualification is genuinely matched to job needs. Governments have an opportunity to take the necessary policy steps to encourage a more systematic approach to upskilling that re-energizes their national qualifications activities.