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Driving the Future of Work through Work-Based Learning in a World of Constant Change

Nazrene Mannie, Executive Director, Global Apprenticeship Network (GAN)
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The start to 2020 has possibly been the most disruptive period in recent memory. As practitioners and participants involved in work-based learning (WBL), we have experienced both a period of challenges and uncertainty, and an acceleration of many aspects of what the Future of Work (FoW) may hold.

However, there has been an opportunity for the world as a whole to assess and identify solutions to workforce development that integrate diversity, accessibility, inclusion, equality and sustainability. The impact we can potentially make with partners that include the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the Group of Twenty (G20)/ Business Twenty (B20) structures, and the private sector, is expansive.

The current crisis has also offered a tremendous opportunity to consider accelerated changes in technology, demographics and environment that are critical elements of the WBL solutions, as a response to COVID-19 and beyond.

The pandemic has accelerated a trend that has already been progressing since the onset of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where new jobs and forms of work are created, while old ones disappear. Research points us to an array of new and emerging skills we need to navigate the FoW, many of which emphasise the need for “soft” or foundational skills.

The OECD and JPMorgan Chase have released a comprehensive Skills for Jobs database to help us understand the complex relationship between skills and the labour market. The FoW is transforming the mix of skills required from the workforce which will require a significant shift in mainstream and vocational education.

Traditional institutions and approaches to learning are increasingly becoming outdated and we need to engage more meaningfully with new policy advances and tools to be able to improve and accelerate the way we prepare future generations.

The key themes that are influencing a global review of recommendations and policy actions in the learning, development, and employment space, include:

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  • Driving economic stability, growth, and innovation across labour markets.
  • Enterprise development, including access to finance for businesses, particularly micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).
  • Creating an adaptable and future ready workforce by influencing education and training strategies that support people development approaches.
  • Strengthening public-private partnerships.

Since my appointment as Executive Director of GAN Global, I have experienced the power of public-private partnerships to overcome periods of increased volatility, transitions and shifting demands. This type of collaboration between the public and private sectors can improve dynamism in the labour market and talent networks.

Strengthening collaboration requires action and commitment across labour markets, employees, employers, governments, and other stakeholders, including civil society – however, it CAN be done.

As a call to action from the G20-B20 discussions in 2014 to alleviate youth unemployment through WBL, including apprenticeship, GAN Global is proof that this type of commitment exists globally and nationally, and still stands strong post the financial crisis, and now facing another type of recession.

We have a rare opportunity at present to reshape and enhance our training systems to create meaningful pathways and strategies to orient current and future workers towards the skills and jobs of the future. Our members and partners have each made individual commitments towards skilling their workforces in the sectors they are involved in and are leveraging the power of public-private partnerships to ensure that WBL opportunities remain a priority post COVID-19.

The FoW is here much sooner than we imagined, let us leverage our unique strengths to create and reshape workforces in a more equitable and sustainable way.

Nazrene Mannie, Executive Director, Global Apprenticeship Network (GAN)

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