Accenture: Race between education and technology

By Janet Brice
With the right skilling investments, the prize is there for the taking, according to a report from Accenture which reveal three-steps to success...

With the right skilling investments, the prize is there for the taking, according to a report from Accenture which focuses on the race between education and technology.

“Our ground-breaking economic modelling uncovers how intelligent technologies will reshape the demand for tasks, skills and jobs,” say Accenture.

According to the report, It's learning. Just not as we know it, today’s education and training systems are not keeping up with the current demand for skills and tomorrow’s new demands.

“New approaches to learning are needed if businesses are to achieve the growth promised by intelligent technologies,” comment Accenture. “We suggest three remedies: Speed up experiential learning techniques, broaden individuals’ blend of skills and ensure inclusive access to tomorrow’s skilling solutions.”

According to statistics from Accenture, 90% will be the proportion of worker time that will be potentially impacted by intelligent technologies either through augmentation or automation.

“If G20 countries are unable to adapt the supply of skills to meet the needs of the new technological era, they risk forgoing up to US$11.5 trillion in GDP growth over the next 10 years.”

Accenture constructed 10 role clusters which shows the impact of intelligent technologies on each sector. The research shows that tasks in the Science and Engineering and the Empathy and Support clusters are most likely to be augmented while physical manual labour will be most exposed to automation in the coming decade.

In the US, Empathy and Support workers, such as nurses and psychiatrists, represent the largest single share of employment in the entire economy. “Our research highlights these roles are highly augmentable. A total of 64% of their work time could be potentially augmented and 14% might be augmented within the next 10 years. 

“As this happens, we can expect an increase in demand for these roles, as much as 1.4 million workers. With the right skilling investments, the prize is there for the taking.”

Accenture point out the response to the skills crisis: train more engineers; raise the number of arts graduates. But creating larger cohorts with certain skills is not the answer.

Two things stand out in Accenture’s analysis:

1. Creativity, socio-emotional intelligence and complex reasoning are the skills that are rising in importance across every work role. 

“These skills are not taught in today’s learning systems. They are acquired through practice, experience and often over long-time periods,”

2. The blend of skills required by each worker is becoming more complex. 

“There needs to be a greater emphasis on broadening the variety of skills within each worker.”

Three steps to success:

  • Speed up experiential learning:

From design thinking in the board room to simulation training tools for technical roles; from on-the-job training initiatives to apprenticeships. Apply new technologies like virtual reality and AI to make learning more immersive, engaging and personalised.

  • Shift focus from institutions to individuals:

Incentivise everyone to develop a broader blend of skills, rather than only targeting the output of institutions in terms of graduates or certifications.

  • Empower vulnerable learners:

Support older workers, those in lower skill roles or in smaller businesses. Offer more guidance to follow appropriate training and career pathways. Provide modular learning to suit their life commitments. Provide new funding models, such as grants, to encourage personal lifelong learning plans.

The Lifelong Learning Revolution – a two-part podcast featuring experts from the field of education technology and corporate learning can be heard by clicking on the link below:

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