Four free learning resources from the World Economic Forum

I’m a big fan of podcasts and whilst listening to The Nowhere Office (episode: AI Special 3: The Fork in the Road), I was reminded that the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting 2024 in Davos, Switzerland was a couple of weeks ago.

Whatever your opinion of WEF – a place for global dialogue, elitist and exclusive or somewhere in-between – they do offer free resources on a range of global issues. I do not work for WEF so this isn’t a promotional blog, I’m simply interested in some of their work. Here are four resources from WEF about the future of work and lifelong learning that I recommend – if nothing else it will give you food for thought. Let’s begin.

The Future of Jobs Report 2023

Links: webpage and PDF

The webpage link above is a digest of the report’s finding while the PDF link is the full report. The data comes from 45 economies, 27 industry clusters and 803 companies collectively employing more than 11.3 million workers. It’s full of statistics and insights throughout and of particular interest to me is section 4 ‘Skills outlook’. Two things that struck me were:

  • Employers estimate that 44% of workers’ skills will be disrupted in the next five years.
  • Six in 10 workers will require training before 2027, but only half of workers are seen to have access to adequate training opportunities today.

If you’re interested, as I am, in how companies intend to tackle this disruption Section 5 ‘Workforce strategies’ suggests that the top two workforce strategies for 2023-2027 are:

  1. 81.2% will invest in learning and training on the job
  2. 80.0% will accelerate the automation of processes

Automation (e.g. Big data, cloud computing, AI) features heavily in the report as a disrupter to the workforce but after listening to the discussion in the aforementioned AI special podcast, this may lead to a net gain in jobs… just different jobs. Hence the need for re-skilling and investment in learning. This report could help to give you new insights into future learning requirements.

WEF Global Skills Taxonomy index

Link: webpage

This taxonomy is mentioned in The Future of Jobs Report 2023 and I love the simplicity of the design and interaction on this site, as well as the content.

The taxonomy is split into two main hierarchies, at Level 1: Skills, knowledge and abilities; Attitudes. Thereafter, it branches into separate classification nodes (e.g. Cognitive skills, Management skills, Ethics) at Level 2 which are further subdivided into Levels 3 and 4.

Clicking on a title at any level shows a description in the top left-hand side of the page. For example, click on the title ‘Project management’ you get the following description: “Capacity to lead the work of a team to identify, select and implement the appropriate changes, tools, and improvements to achieve and deliver a defined goal.” I like this description because it is about the skill not the profession of ‘project management’, at different times for different tasks, a worker may manage a project without being classified a ‘project manager’.

You can also filter what you see on-screen at any level or title. Alternatively, clicking any title highlights the branch in bold so you can easily identify the related nodes in each level. I like this simple feature because you still see the surrounding related skills or attitudes.

Note, this is the WEF’s taxonomy. You may consider there are missing elements or the descriptions don’t quite fit your own definition, however, I find this site incredibly useful for two reasons.

  1. Talking to clients: it helps when collaborating with clients about skills and attitudes, especially if this level of granularity is new to them. I’ve used it with senior management to explain subtle differences between different elements. And, I’ve used it with subject matter experts writing learning content to explore the differences between skills and attitudes and subsequent learning opportunities provided.
  2. Creating a team or company taxonomy: this is a good example of making sure that everyone is talking about the same thing (i.e. ‘Singing from the same hymn sheet’). They may not need this taxonomy but something similar or more refined. It’s a great starting point for discussing their own taxonomical requirement.

A final point, there are two taxonomies available – by default the adult workers’ ’Global Skills Taxonomy’ is visible but if you select the ‘Education 4.0’ button in the top left-hand corner of the page, you will see a taxonomy for young learners – go to the WEF Defining Education 4.0 website for more information.

WEF Putting skills first framework

Links: webpage and PDF

In the last few years more and more of my clients’ focus has been on upskilling and reskilling their workforce. With this in mind, my third recommendation is WEF’s white paper on ‘putting skills first’.

To paraphrase the WEF: A skills-first approach to talent management prioritises individuals’ skills and competencies over degrees, job histories, or titles, aiming to democratise access to economic opportunities and broaden pathways to good jobs.

You may not want to put into practice the framework wholesale but I guarantee there will be something in the paper that you will find useful or at least interesting. Personally, I like the fact that two ‘enablers’ mentioned, focus on workforce diversity, rewarding lifelong learning and adopting a common skills language. Read the case studies and form your own opinion on how this could work for you. Remember, this is a white paper and relatively new, so every now and then you may want to revisit the website for more information on the model or for additional case studies, blogs, etc.

WEF Reskilling revolution

Link: website

The Reskilling Revolution is the WEF hub for all things education and skills related. Each of the three resources above can be found on this website. About once every two-months I’ll revisit it to see what’s new. I haven’t formally got involved with any WEF project or initiative but it is one thing I’m going to look into in 2024. I’ll keep you posted.

Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Links: website

For those of you counting, yes, I know this is the fifth recommendation but technically this isn’t specifically about skills and therefore doesn’t make this blog title irrelevant. Think of it as a bonus.

If you’re involved in any decision-making around learning or the future of work, you will already understand the impact technology is having on the workforce. I regularly visit this website to catchup on what’s going on in technology. I particularly like the Initiatives, Communities and Insights pages.

And finally…

There you have it, my four (well, five) recommended readings from WEF and a podcast. As I said at the top, I’m not affiliated in any way with WEF and these are certainly not the only resources I’d recommend. However, recommend them I will. Enjoy!

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