Anticipating and preparing for the impact of digital on the workforce is urgent, and just as critical to Accenture’s business as it is to our corporate citizenship initiative, Skills to Succeed.
When we launched Skills to Succeed in 2010, the global economy was emerging from a recession characterized by high unemployment rates in many countries, particularly among youth. Since launching Skills to Succeed, Accenture has built relationships with an international network of more than 500 nonprofit organizations and other ecosystem partners who are closing skills and employment gaps for vulnerable and marginalized people around the world. Together we have equipped over 1.7 million people with the skills to get a job or build a business. We have also conducted and disseminated research that translates practitioner know-how into evidence-based insights about what works to improve the collective performance of the Skills to Succeed network.
When we look at the world today and five to 10 years into the future, we see a different picture from the backdrop against which Skills to Succeed was created. The rapid pace and scale of technological change and global flows of information, among other forces, are disrupting labor markets and fundamentally altering the future of work. While these shifts may create economic growth, new jobs and flexible work, they may also lead to the automation of routine, manual roles.
The ability to seize these opportunities and manage potential obstacles, however, is not evenly distributed.1 Vulnerable and marginalized populations could face a ‘double disadvantage’ in the future, due to a lack of awareness of or means to adapt to these changes. It is with these challenges in mind that we undertook our research, New Skills Now: Inclusion in the Digital Economy, to surface insights that we hope will be useful to our target audience: • Workforce development organizations—practitioners designing and delivering programs to help vulnerable and marginalized populations thrive in the digital economy • Public and private sector funders of workforce development organizations and programs.
To synthesize our learnings from Skills to Succeed and the latest thinking from the field into a useful reference framework for workforce development practitioners and funders To spark and inform the debate among these parties on how to futureproof workforce development for a rapidly changing economy
We explored the following key research questions: • How are the forces shaping the digital economy redefining the future of work for vulnerable and marginalized populations? • What are the skills needed to be included in the digital economy? • How can these skills be developed and designed into effective programs? To answer these questions, we interviewed more than 40 practitioners and thought leaders from a wide range of fields spanning neuroscience, workforce development, corporate learning and talent development, education, sociology and cognitive psychology; analyzed over 130 million job postings; reviewed 1,000 workforce development programs; established a Learning Circle made up of experts from around the world; and assessed more than 25 of the leading frameworks on the future of work and skills. Our research revealed a wealth of insights that will inform how we evolve Skills to Succeed and that we hope will be a catalyst for change within the field more broadly. For example, we found that while it is never too late to learn New Skills Now, the earlier individuals develop these skills and build the right habits, mindsets and neural pathways, the greater the likelihood of success. At the same time, the linear career paths of the past are giving way to a more dynamic trajectory. Future generations can expect to navigate multiple jobs, including many that have not yet been invented. A growth mindset, characterized by resilience, adaptability and a love of learning, underpins all other skills needed for job seekers and entrepreneurs to successfully navigate the changing world of work. By sharing this framework and our findings, we hope to spark debate and contribute to a more inclusive future where all members of society can participate in and benefit from the digital economy.