Policies + Practices that involve the education community (universities and colleges, departments of education, and compulsory education institutions).
Governments should put forward policies that include funding and incentives to redesign community college curricula to 1) integrate remedial education and vocational training (rather than have them be sequential); 2) create shorter courses that provide usable credentials on the path to a degree; and 3) provide more financial support over shorter intervals to allow adults to focus on studies rather than work while enrolled.
Governments should expand access to skills training by making workers who lose their jobs eligible for a Dislocation Reskilling Account. The account would provide public funds to invest in training through an apprenticeship or other training program, with a community organization or at a community or technical college, to prepare workers who lose their jobs for new jobs created as a result of technological shifts in the workplace.
Governments and and higher education systems should develop and delivers services to ensure that all learners, including those with preexisting personal barriers, have pathways to credential attainment.
Governments should develop a regulatory framework to ensure tha new financing tools, such as income sharing agreements (ISAs), do not further predatory student debt collection practices. Policies can reduce risks associated with emerging financing models by limiting stacked ISAs, shifting risk from students to funders, and banning discriminatory and predatory practices.
Governments should allocate funding for rigorous professional development to prepare teachers from diverse backgrounds to integrate technology into their teaching.
Governments should make available in cross-state wage data exchanges (such as the State Wage Interchange System) information that employers report quarterly to measure the outcomes of postsecondary education and training programs. States can also use this data to regularly evaluate whether schools should be included on their ETPLs.
While some automated technologies raise productivity and deliver economic benefits that can help offset the impacts of displacement, others (labeled by some researchers as “so-so technology") may deliver limited benefit while adversely impacting workers. Governments and employers need more investigation and a more nuanced understanding of the merits of specific types of automation and technology, such as self-checkout. Defining “good” and “bad”—or, perhaps, “worse”—automation can be useful in regulating change, determining policy priorities, and deploying employer or worker incentives.
Policymakers and employers must address the question of what good jobs will be created to replace the lost jobs in administrative and clerical work, especially those that do not require an advanced degree to earn a family-sustaining wage. They should conduct further investigations to understand how clerical workers weathered transitions and job dislocation during the last several decades, when automation shrank the number of administrative jobs. The resulting lessons can be useful in connecting this workforce to new opportunities and in helping administrative workers keep pace with technological changes.
While much attention has focused on the use of technology to facilitate distance learning or personalized learning, educational institutions require a better understanding of how adults learn, particularly when interfacing with technology. Educational institutions should create a framework for putting lessons learned and best practices from past studies into practice practice. Such information is necessary to design training and skills programs that are effective in helping adults learn.
Educational institutions, trade associations, unions, and employers could use new technology and online models to offer workers non-degree credentials and ways to gain specific competencies. Some employers are already partnering with universities to offer online education benefits to their employees. Online or hybrid learning approaches can expand access to skill-building opportunities at a lower cost. This could help adults who are working, face transportation challenges, live far from training providers, or are balancing family responsibilities.
Governments, educational institutions, and employers should collaborate to explore the potential for formalized verified resumes. A verified resume is a document that records the skills and knowledge that people acquire through their lives, both as students and workers. Interest in verified resumes has grown in recent years with developments in blockchain technology that can reliably document skill verification by a distributed network of actors.
Governments and educational institutions should prioritize the development, validation, and promotion of a broader ecosystem of stackable skills-oriented credentials, such as microcredentials, badges, and short-term certificates. Stackable skills-oriented certifications can fill the signaling problem for workers without diplomas or degrees by capturing employability skills and other noncognitive skills. They also benefit students by not penalizing program noncompletion as harshly and offering credit and certifications for obtaining intermediate skills.
Colleges and Universities should integrate lifelong learning programs into existing degrees structures. This would be done by creating potable credentials that follow a student throughout their later career while making training and professional developments key parts of faculty career paths and graduate training. This policy would better prepare students for a dynamic work environment which requires an ever-changing skill set.
Employers should develop industry and sector partnerships to create regional jobs and career pathways. Sector partnerships bring together local stakeholders—employers, colleges, education and training providers, labor representatives, and workforce development experts—to address challenges by developing education-to-employment talent pipelines and developing coursework and training that meet relevant skill needs. Workers benefit from instruction in in-demand skills, awareness of emerging job opportunities, and guidance on which degrees and certifications to pursue based on what local employers look for when hiring.
Educational institutions and providers should incorporate transversal competencies—such as better management of one’s own learning, social and interpersonal relations, and communication—into learning methods from pre-school to training schemes for mature workers. Transversal competencies are skills that can be easily transferred from one specific profession to another. Refitting education for the demands of the world of work requires new forms of schooling and teaching with a focus on the application of knowledge.
Schools, universities and private training providers should form public–private partnerships to invest in skills development and human capital. Such a "skills endowment" could be pre-financed through education-linked loans that would only have to be paid back when and if the recipient achieves a certain level of income through subsequent employment. In the future of work, public education funding efforts need to focus as much on current workers and job seekers as on children and young adults not yet in the workforce.
Universities or employers should offer modules for students to earn "digital badges" that signal soft skill development. Formalizing and professionalizing these career markers can allow individuals to craft a career around roles that involve care work or otherwise do not require specialized training, many of which cannot be replaced by technology.
Universities should offer more modules and courses focusing on the ethics in technological innovation. A systematic educational approach could help new tech leaders distinguish between technologies that expand the capability of workers and those that merely extract from them without increasing their potential.
Policymakers should use projections of education demand to inform workforce development planning. Proprietary analytical information and college administrative data can also be linked with state wage records in the process of retaining and attracting employers and industries to the state. Employer demand for talent has elevated the importance of workers with specific skills gained through postsecondary education and training.
Educational institutions should explore the use of occupational data and employer/industry expert feedback to develop competencies and learning outcomes for postsecondary education and training programs. Employers also can tailor their job ads to include academic competencies that employees need. Whether as part of a competency-based or traditional education program, curriculum alignment that starts with data analysis is necessary for colleges to keep student learning relevant to the competencies demanded by industry, as well as to establish stronger ties to employers.
Education and training systems must prepare workers to be flexible and to develop new skills in response to rapid changes brought by new technologies. Governments should collaborate with these institutions to provide incentives and means for workers to obtain training and education not only in technical areas but also in creativity, management, and social and communication skills. These are among the least automatable tasks, according to a task-oriented framework for categorizing skills developed by the McKinsey Global Institute.
Colleges and universities should partner with industry to help prepare their students for entering the workforce. Companies and universities can, for example, jointly design certificate programs that incorporate internships or apprenticeships with potential employers. Through these programs, employers can not only compete for talent but also develop the pipeline of talent they need to build their workforce.
Employers should provide new ways for workers to signal their skills and credentials across fields as jobs and industries change. Businesses can work with educational institutions as well as organizations like Credential Engine, Job Data Exchange, and T3 Network to rewire the current skill-signaling system toward transparency and integration, as well as build linkages across the data and tech infrastructure that underpins this new system. Cross-industry skills credentialing enables employees to communicate and demonstrate their skills and the applicability of those skills to future work.
Educational institutions at the secondary and postsecondary level should add occupational and labor market data, employment projections, wages, and student skill, value, and interest assessment data to the student career counseling process to inform college major and career selection. Some institutions of higher education are also using predictive analytics to identify course-taking patterns, course completion rates, and other factors that might help determine the keys that lead to student progress and success. These data-driven tools can address gaps in the availability of quality guidance counseling and provide additional guidance to those who need it most, including low-income and first-generation college students.