Across the world, the workforce is growing. In fact, the number of women (a cohort with low employment and activity rates) between 15 and 64 years working or looking for work has increased globally in the past five years.
Despite this growth, employers across the globe report skills shortages across a multitude of industries. While skilled migration is at an all-time high according to Hays Global Skills Index, digitization is raising questions about who will do the work of tomorrow, and what it will look like.
Over the next 10 to 20 years, nearly half of jobs are at risk of being automated, particularly in areas such as transportation and logistics, office and admin support and manufacturing. As AI, machine learning and IoT becomes commonplace in professional environments, it’s critical that people have the skills to respond to these changes in a positive and productive way.
With such significant gaps in the contemporary workforce, governments are creating initiatives to tackle this growing skills shortage by linking education and business to cultivate the employees of the future.
1) SkillsFuture - Singapore
With the tagline 'Realise Your Aspirations', SkillsFuture is 100% committed to giving Singaporeans the best possible professional opportunities imaginable.
This national movement to works to provide businesses and individuals with choices to maximize their skills on a continuous basis, regardless of their existing knowledge base or starting points. SkillsFuture understands that the skills, passion, and contribution of each individual will drive Singapore's next phase of development towards an advanced, thriving economy and an inclusive, forward-thinking society.
SkillsFuture not only offers a number of tailored programmes for professionals at all stages of their careers, as well as employers and training providers, but its e-services also help encourage individuals to adopt a lifelong learning mindset.
The SkillsFuture Credit initiative provides Singaporeans aged 25 and over with an opening credit of S$500. This course credit doesn't expire, and the government provides periodic top-ups to help engaged lifelong learners accumulate more platform funding to continue their education.
Result: In 2016, 126,000 Singaporeans used SkillsFuture credit to enhance their digital careers; the scheme's inaugural year. More than 34% of applicants used the scheme more than once. It's clear to see that SkillsFuture learning model is inspiring positive results, and as more people use the scheme, the stronger a digital nation Singapore will become.
2) Tamkeen - Bahrain
The primary objective of Tamkeen is to enhance the skill sets of Bahrainis to make them the employees of choice. By offering individuals and enterprises a range of professional certifications and flexible training options through an interactive user portal, Tamkeen is helping to drive the future prosperity of its nation's workforce.
There are three core areas of focus:
Students: To guide and support students to help them make informed decisions about their educational or occupational choices through various schemes involving partnerships with key stakeholders including the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Youth & Sports Affairs.
Jobseekers: To provide the fundamental skills and give jobseekers the power to acquire professional qualifications that will ultimately enhance their employability. These programmes also offer valuable insights about job hunting, CV writing, and job interview etiquette.
Employees: To support will help upskill professionals to increase their chances of career development or career progression by using grants and advisory services.
Result: With over 200 programmes currently in operation and an international skills collaboration with the U.S underway, Tamkeen is set to enrich the skillset of digital learners both on home soil and overseas.
3) SDS Fund - Scotland
Skills Development Scotland is an initiative that values the power of diversity and inclusion in the modern workplace.
With over 1,200 colleagues working across the nation in schools, careers centers, and designated partner locations, SDS Fund is dedicated to developing the skills of individuals and businesses in a multitude of sectors, working to make a critical contribution to a bright, prosperous and healthy Scottish economy.
SDS works with organizations to offer tailored advice and solutions based on their personal needs, giving employees access to a service that will help them gain more knowledge, confidence, and competency in a challenging digital environment.
The SDS Fund works with its partner BEMIS to ensure its dedication to inclusion and diversity is maintained throughout its various programmes, courses and apprenticeships - something that is essential to growth, progress and development.
“Working together increases accessibility for young people building replicable solutions, whilst creating a diverse workforce that meets Scotland’s future economic needs, increases social mobility and promotes strong, vibrant communities.” - Ann McInnes, Programme Co-ordinator at Bemis
Result: According to an SDS Fund Progress report, in 2015 alone, the initiative helped 400 people understand more about and access community services and offered training and materials have been made available to around 272 individuals that needed support. And as the scheme picks up momentum, big outcomes are expected for 2018.
4) HRDF - Malaysia
Managed by Pembangunan Sumber Manusia Berhad, Malaysia's HRDF is at the forefront of upskilling and reskilling the nation. In line with the 11th Malaysia Plan, the government has initiated a number of programs that focus on accelerating human capital development in 4 core areas:
- Improving the efficiency of labor force to accelerate economic growth
- Transforming technical and vocational education to meet growing industry demands
- Strengthening lifelong and continuous learning for skills personal and professional enhancement
- Improving the quality of the education system for better student outcomes and increased institutional excellence
Working in conjunction with the government, HRDF offers tailored educational solutions to organizations across the nation, providing training in e-learning, industrial training, computer-based training, coaching and mentoring, and more.
Result - The HRDF has pledged to contribute 35% skilled Malaysian labor force as well as the generation of 1.5 million jobs by 2020. And with its current initiatives in place, success seems likely.
5) Springboard - Ireland
Ireland's government-driven educational initiative, provides a choice of around 208 free, part-time and intensive conversion courses in the realms of higher education from certificate to degree to postgraduate level.
By giving professionals the opportunity to acquire priceless digital skills in key areas that are linked to their expertise of choice, Springboard aims to close Ireland's digital skills gap, helping to foster a new breed of professionals: those that can continue to thrive in an ever-evolving digital landscape.
Result - 96% of graduates would recommend Springboard to other job seekers - a testament to the value of its educational offerings - and the organization's blog not only offers a content to help its students stay abreast of digital developments, but it also offers practical information about using the platform itself.
With the number of full-time undergraduate students in Ireland increasing by 10% in a relatively short period of time, there is plenty of scope for Springboard to help accelerate Ireland's digital skills progress even further.
6) Tech Partnership - UK
Dedicated to the growth and development of digital skills, the Tech Partnership exists to cultivate the digital professionals of tomorrow - and its membership is free to all employers of tech professionals in the UK. This innovative partnership is a network of employers working in close collaboration with one common goal: to create the skills needed to push the UK digital economy forward.
Despite the fact that the Tech Partnership is ending this year, the scheme's ambition lies in delivering the skills for a million digital jobs by 2025. No one business can achieve this on its own and the partnership's collaborative approach will help upskill workers across a range of sectors in a practical and positive way.
The Tech Partnership works with a number of innovative companies, including BT. Speaking on the partnership, BT Group Chief Executive, Gavin Patterson said, "We are particularly pleased that industry will have the opportunity to build on its work within the Tech Partnership and our existing degree apprenticeship schemes, setting standards and promoting degrees that are aligned to employer needs."
By offering a range of relevant degrees and apprenticeships as well as access to basic digital skills, the Tech Partnership works to set the standards for digital skills in the UK in a bid to nurture the talent of the nation's budding professionals.
Result - With the Prime Minister recently announcing the £20 million Institute of Coding, formed by businesses including IBM, Cisco and Microsoft, it's clear to see that governing bodies in the UK and beyond are starting to stand up and take notice of the world's digital skills gap.
These six initiatives take slightly different approaches, but they all have one thing in common: to build tomorrow's digital workforce by offering innovative, continuous, valuable, sustainable and accessible education to today's budding professional. And that is the most important thing of all.