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Reaching the ‘hard to reach’: talent development in difficult times

Monday 21 – Wednesday 23 November 2022 | WPE1754

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Combined with proactive engagement, policy developments can support a fully inclusive approach that provides skills for all. However, to deliver on inclusivity, it is fundamental that education and training systems increase participation by women and girls, and other underrepresented groups. This involves identifying skills gaps and ensuring the onboarding of the skills talent required in blended education and the remote working world. To develop the skills agenda, providers and employers could work together to provide remote skills that deliver competent, confident workers to meet role requirements, taking a rapidly changing workplace and employment culture into account.

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic presented a major challenge for both educators and students. However, a need for alternative methods of teaching significantly propelled digital interventions in education delivery. How these impact underrepresented groups is vital. This has in turn engendered a need for alternative approaches to develop and identify skilled talent which align with new ways of working while still meeting business demands. Major changes to workplace environments and a shift to remote working have created a new outlook on management, but there is more to be done to identify and develop managerial potential in this realm. Adapting to these seismic shifts in real time requires engagement, collaboration, and cooperation across all sectors to deliver a workforce which is adequately prepared for the future.

It was noted that 75% of young people currently enrolled in primary education will work in entirely new jobs in two decades time. The creation and development of whole new sectors of the global workplace will demand greater skills acquisition capabilities from today’s students. Education systems can build a solid training foundation that enables academic, professional, and technical skills to be symbiotically aligned with employer based, industry defined demands that is inclusive for all, integrating lifelong learning and sustainable employment for all, irrespective of protected characteristics. Indeed, the widespread adoption of lifelong learning is the only solution to the existing skills redundancy. Securing this requires an ongoing high-level dialogue involving industry, government, and education providers, particularly focusing on the repositioning of skills development away from associations as academic learning’s poor second cousin. This is a process which has begun, but one which is important not to stall.

The existing gap between the education delivered in universities and the skills demanded by industry demands better understanding, pointing to a central need for enhanced data collection, access and sharing, across both national and international borders. Some encouraging progress has been made in this area, but ultimately this needs further development going forwards.


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