Research should help to shed light on the future of the workforce, and develop education systems that will fulfil future workforce demands
Dubai, UAE, 29th January 2017: Learning company Pearson and innovation foundation Nesta today announce a research partnership in collaboration with Michael Osborne (Oxford Martin School) which is designed to provide businesses, governments and education experts with new insights and evidence about the skills and competencies which will be required in the future economy.
Through Employment in 2030: Skills, Competencies & the Implications for Learning, the research team will provide recommendations for how education, job training and other workforce development efforts can shift practice today in an attempt to better prepare the workforce of tomorrow.
“Businesses, governments and schools are struggling to adapt to the pace of change required to prepare the workforce of tomorrow. This world-class research partnership provides an opportunity for us to learn now about the skills and competencies that will be needed tomorrow - and to prepare accordingly.” - Michael Barber, Chief Education Advisor to Pearson
At the heart of the research are two cutting-edge methodologies that are rarely combined:
- foresight exercises featuring sector experts who will examine the trends that will shape the jobs market in the future, how they will interact, and what that means for the demand for different types of jobs; and
- a machine learning algorithm deployed on O*NET data (a US Department of Labor occupational database that offers a wealth of insights into the skills and competencies required for nearly 1000 occupations).
Through this novel methodology the research team will be able to predict the likely demand for different skills, and skill combinations, for the jobs economy of 2030.
“This research will provide a substantial contribution to answering some of the most pressing questions that education faces. By extending beyond the effects of automation to examine the wider set of profound trends that will shape the demand for skills in 2030, and by coupling expert foresight exercises with machine learning, we will be able to surface novel insights that policy makers and practitioners can have the confidence to act on.” - Hasan Bakhshi, Senior Director, Creative Economy and Data Analytics, Nesta.
The project builds on Carl Benedikt Frey and Osborne's seminal 2013 paper on The Future Of Employment, in which they found that up to 47 percent of total US employment is at risk from computerization. It also extends the existing collaboration between Hasan Bakhshi and Michael Osborne , who worked with Carl Benedikt Frey (of the Oxford Martin School) to detail the power of creativity - read in a wide sense - to future-proof work. 
'I am optimistic that there will still be plenty of good jobs available in fifteen years’ time, but it's clear that many of these will require mixes and depths of skills that are currently rare. To plan for this, we need greater insight into what these skill combinations will be. We also need learning - across ages and stages - to begin to prepare for these probable futures.' - Michael Osborne, Oxford Martin School.
As a region investing heavily into workforce development and planning, the countries of the GCC will find the research, and its findings, particularly useful.
“The GCC has a unique set of circumstances which make predicting the future of the workforce here very important. With a large percentage of the population under the age of 25, it is critical that we get workforce planning right. Economic diversification efforts of governments across the GCC mean that in all likelihood, the jobs required in ten or 20 years’ time will be very different to those in demand right now. We therefore need to be concentrating on ensuring that we are getting education right. That is, giving young learners across our region the kind of skills and knowledge that will make them successful as they leave school and progress in their careers,” says Karim Daoud, Managing Director, Pearson Middle East.
Pearson and Nesta will share the findings of this research publicly in order to facilitate dialogue with educators, policymakers and others who seek to understand the impact of technological advancements on the future jobs economy, and the implications for how education can best be organized to prepare learners today for the jobs of tomorrow.