Davos: Tech training portal aims to upskill 1 million workers

The World Economic Forum in Davos last week announced both new research – “Towards a Reskilling Revolution” – and a new “IT Industry Skills Initiative” that aims to upskill 1 million people by 2021.

New research – “Towards a Reskilling Revolution”

The report Towards a Reskilling Revolution says the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ – driven by AI (artificial intelligence), robots and other advanced technology – will affect almost everyone’s work, and will “threaten to quickly outdate the shelf life of people skillsets and the relevance of what they thought they knew”.  Already 1 in 4 adults say their skills don’t match what is needed for their current job.

Job transition methodology

The report describes a methodology that identified the ‘skill clusters’ of 958 job types and aims to show the feasibility of transition pathways from job types in decline to other job types needing similar skills, knowledge and attitudes.

“Using the labour market of the United States as an example, the report introduces an innovative, big data approach and methodology built on conventional labour market information systems as well as online job postings. It demonstrates the power of data-driven approaches for finding solutions to job disruptions, including job transition pathways and reskilling opportunities that might not be immediately apparent.

The methodology introduced in this report can be used to inform the actions of individual workers, policy-makers and companies. Importantly, it is not limited to the geography or data presented here, and can be feasibly adapted to different jobs and skills taxonomies, divergent demand projections and broadly to new sources of data about the labour market.” 

The report shows a number of examples of reskilling pathways, including some unexpected transitions – for example, a Heavy Truck Driver job has a similarity score of 0.96 (maximum 1) with Sailors and Marine Oilers.

The research is from the World Economic Forum in collaboration with The Boston Consulting Group and Burning Glass Technologies.

Free online training portal SkillSET

The IT Industry Skills Initiative will use materials contributed by a coalition of 11 major IT companies to provide a free self-paced online IT skills training portal, www.theskillset.org. Expected to go live in April and initially aimed at the USA, the aim is to train 1 million people by January 2021, with courses “ranging from general business skills, basic digital literacy and entrepreneurship to more advanced topics such as cyber-security, big data or Internet of Things”.

Skills Assessment Tool

An online Skills Assessment tool will help portal users chose coursework that fits their goals.  The tailored Skills Assessment, developed by PwC, and based on the Fourth Industrial Revolution skills research, will help users determine which coursework and/or learning pathways best fit their current skillset and learning goals.

The hope is to “motivate adults of all backgrounds to use the platform, especially those from low-resource communities or under-represented groups who have historically had less access to the IT industry.”

SkillSET is hosted on the EdCast AI-powered platform, accessible to anyone in desktop or mobile versions. The coalition will be working over the next few months to  address many of the barriers that prevent adults from reskilling or successfully completing training.

Relevance to New Zealand?

These developments appear to have considerable potential for New Zealand.

The job transition methodology and examples are interesting and would be very useful if reworked using NZ data.

The SkillSET portal could be a very useful training resource for medium to advanced level courses. The devil, as always, is in the detail: access allowed from New Zealand, what the courses cover, ease of setup and use, suitable local support etc. The coalition apparently doesn’t include Microsoft or Google, which may constrain the level of training for their software.

Online self-paced courses

The 20/20 Trust has considerable experience with both basic digital literacy skills training (in our Computers in Homes, Stepping UP and ICDL programmes) and with online self-paced courses (in ICDL and KiwiSkills programmes). Our experience is that online self-paced courses work best for individuals who already have a good level of digital computer skills, strong motivation, good online access and readily available tutor support.

Digital Literacy skills training

Successful basic digital literacy skills training requires a lot more than an online course offers. Such training needs a supportive, tutored approach in a safe and comfortable learning environment. Training needs to be hands-on and practical, and students greatly prefer workbook-based courses. One size does not fit all. Programmes need to be adaptable and flexible, delivered by empathetic and trusted trainers in ways that meet local needs.

And though digital literacy skills are one essential, a lot more is needed for digital inclusion – people need a suitable device; affordable broadband access; motivation and confidence. 20/20 works with many partners and supporters to deliver this and make a real difference.

More information

20/20 programme outlines are under the Programmes menu with details in the Computers In HomesDigital Inclusion MapICDLKiwiSkills, Stepping Up subsites.