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Preparing for the Future of Work is Everyone’s Job: Relearning How We Learn, from the Campus to the Workplace

December 21, 2018

The well-known adage “people are our most important asset” holds more weight than ever today. Not only do companies and higher education institutions (HEIs) need to train people for jobs that currently exist, they also need to prepare them for jobs that don’t exist yet.

Cognizant has released a Future of Learning report, based on a global survey of 601 top business executives at leading companies and 262 higher education institutions – to uncover detailed insight into the changes these entities are making in their training and educational programs, and the challenges they face in preparing tomorrow’s workforce.

The research reveals the following key trends, the impacts of which will soon ripple throughout businesses and across the higher education industry:

  • Preparing the workforce for future jobs is a matter of survival for both businesses and HEIs.

The majority of businesses (80 percent) and HEIs (72 percent) globally agree it’s extremely important to prepare workers and students to work alongside emerging digital technologies. They have a mammoth task ahead, though: Businesses and HEIs in Singapore estimate that 60 percent and 55 percent of their total staff and students, respectively, will be prepared to handle new types of work driven by emerging digital technologies in the next five years. However, a whopping 82 percent and 63percent of Singaporean HEIs and businesses are presently unable to deliver.

  • Businesses are beginning to bear the burden of learning.

Skills have become like mobile apps that need frequent upgrades. While 45 percent of businesses in Singapore currently update their learning content on an annual or biannual basis, 67 percent of HEIs only update their curriculum every two to six years. Globally, businesses are intent on speeding the pace of curriculum updates, with 75 percent planning to move to a one- to five-month or even continuous refresh schedule in the next five years. In contrast, only 30 percent of HEIs plan to increase update frequency, from today’s two- to six-year cycle to an annual one by 2023.

  • The work ahead means working together.

Preparing the current and future workforce for the work ahead cannot take place in a vacuum. Three-quarters of both businesses and HEIs globally view collaboration as critical to successfully managing the transformative and disruptive impact of the new machine age. Singapore businesses appear less keen to collaborate with higher education institutions as opposed to educators – only 55 percent of businesses see collaboration as critical compared to 75 percent of HEIs.

  • Emerging technologies such as AR/VR and AI will supercharge learning by focusing on “how to learn” over “what to learn”.

New modes of education delivery will emerge, with Netflix-style, on-demand digital assets allowing for anytime, anywhere self-learning. AI-driven learning platforms will personalize learning, and augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR) systems will become mainstream, with a 220 percent increase in the take-up of the technology by HEIs and businesses globally in in the next five years.

 Based on the insights, Cognizant has developed an industry solution for businesses and higher education institutions, which they define as a ‘Future of Learning equation’. It requires the following elements of change:

  • More accurate skills identification to align with actual workplace needs.
  • Overhauling the approach of curriculum and training to be more immersive and personalised.
  • Provide an environment supportive of self-learning, with access to multiple content sources like open educational resources.

Ultimately, the speed at which these elements are executed will determine their efficacy in preparing an aptly-skilled workforce. Focussing on these areas will enable business leaders and educators to better navigate the rocky path of digitalisation and manage change successfully. In the face of the unknown future, businesses and HEIs will need to engage in more flexible partnerships, quicker responses, different modes of delivery and new combined-skill programs to reliably prepare people for what comes next – to remain competitive amidst the transformations and disruptions of our new machine age.

The complete Future of Learning report can be found here.

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