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Innovative Program Design

Faster, larger-scale and creative approaches to skilling are needed for workforce development programs to meet the demands of the digital economy. Celina Morgan-Standard from the New York Academy of Sciences says, “Using project-based, or inquiry-based learning as a tool to tap into a student’s interest is key… Project-based learning is really at the core [of learning New Skills Now].” Traditional learning models are too passive to establish critical skills. Programs must involve practice spaced over time to create memorable mental models.”44 Emerging technologies also hold great potential to disrupt and increase the efficiency of traditional methods of delivery. A Research & Markets report, for example, forecasts that the use of AI in the US education sector will grow at a 48% CAGR between 2017 and 2021..

It is not enough for skills to be adaptive; they also need to stick. Dana Koch, Accenture’s Learning Strategy & Innovation Lead, drew on insights from neuroscience, cognitive psychology and education to design the Durable Learning Model (Figure 12). The model demonstrates that durable learning programs share eight elements. They are relevant, engaging, delivered in context, effortful, generative, social, practiced and spaced.46 Durability also means that skills can be applied long after they are learned.

Successful learning and workforce development programs embed robust monitoring and evaluation systems to ensure that their interventions remain relevant and effective over time, even in the face of technological change. Access to timely data on labor market needs and employer skill demand helps organizations keep pace with these changes. In our 2016 research report, Pathways to Employment, Accenture determined that up to 65% of workforce development practitioners believe staying ahead of market skill demand results in higher placement rates.47

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