The World Economic Forum has launched the IT Industry Skills Initiative to meet the global skills gap challenge and address job displacement arising from automation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The initiative is committed to reaching 1-million people with resources and training opportunities on the SkillSET portal by January 2021.
The initiative was conceived by the Forum’s IT Governors community under the chairmanship of Chuck Robbins, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Cisco. The founding partners are Accenture, CA Technologies, Cisco, Cognizant, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), Infosys, Pegasystems, PwC, Salesforce, SAP and Tata Consultancy Services.
“We need responsive solutions and coordination from all parts of society — governments, citizens and private industry alike — to re-envision an educational system based on lifelong learning that can fully prepare workers for the jobs of the future,” says Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum. “This initiative is a clear example of industry leaders taking concerted, collective action to address a major social challenge at scale.”
According to a World Economic Forum report on workforce reskilling, one in four adults reported a mismatch between the skills they have and the skills they need for their current job. Therefore, enabling and empowering workers to transform and update their skills is a key concern for businesses and societies across the globe.
“In our dynamic world, technology has opened up many avenues for growth. However, we are also seeing how innovations such as artificial intelligence and automation can impact the workforce. It is important for all of us to recognize that without the talent we need, none of us would be successful,” says Chuck Robbins, chairman and CEO of Cisco.
“This initiative brings together the capabilities and strengths of all of our companies to help educate the high-skilled workers needed for jobs now and into the future. It is our obligation to make sure that people with jobs across every industry are given the means to learn new skills and remain competitive.”
The coalition has created a free platform of online tools to streamline the process of reskilling adults. The initial iteration of the portal will be available in April 2018.
To empower people to address fast-changing skill requirements, initiative partner companies are opening up key elements of their individual training libraries into one centralized portal. Users will have access, free of charge, to the most up-to-date, self-paced training materials from leading global IT companies, ranging from general business skills to introductory digital literacy to more advanced topics such as cybersecurity, big data or internet of things.
The portal will offer a tailored Skills Assessment, developed by PwC, and based on the Fourth Industrial Revolution skills research, to help users determine which coursework and/or learning pathways best fit their current skillset and learning goals.
In creating this platform, the coalition hopes to recast continued education to a more engaging, ongoing and educationally reaffirming experience. They also hope 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 Knowledge Cloud platform, accessible to anyone using desktop or mobile versions.
The coalition, which continues to add members, will be working over the next few months to develop tools and processes intended to address many of the barriers that prevent adults from reskilling or successfully completing trainings. It will initially target the US market, with plans to scale to other geographies and build industry and public-sector partnerships in 2018 and beyond.