Era of the knowledge economy

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According to a United Nations 2019 report, Generation Z is going to become most influential segment in the knowledge economy, as there are more than two billion of them globally; with over 60% living in Asia and 20% in Africa. Of the remaining 400 million, 150 million live in Europe and Latin America/Caribbean, with the rest in North America and Oceania. On a global scale, higher education service providers should pay close attention in researching the skill-set gaps in the young generation of learners, specially in emerging markets.

The recent phenomenon of the technology revolution and automation has changed the professional service landscape in emerging markets, especially in South Asian, African, and Latin American countries. The burgeoning growth of MNCs have drastically increased the demand for skills, and there is not enough skilled talent to meet the ever-growing needs of companies in emerging markets. According to the World Economic Forum, less than five years from now, 85 million jobs will be taken over by machines. Technological advances in robotics and machine learning will also create 97 million new job roles and change the demand of skills sets that employers need from human workers.

Which skill-sets and job roles must knowledge economy professionals in emerging markets develop in an AI-enabled world?

Upskill and reskill

Today’s learners of knowledge economy are expected to master 21st century skills that are instrumental to solve complex, real-world problems that are non-standard, full of ambiguities, and have more than one right answer. The learners are required to upskill/reskill themselves and master analytical thinking and innovation skills, active learning, resilience and flexibility, emotional intelligence, creativity, leadership, and so on to remain relevant and in demand. Such an expectation demands that educational service providers innovate their offerings to offer personalised, yet cost-effective, experiential learning opportunities. The learners must pursue multidisciplinary Nano professional courses that rely on specialised training to solve specific, often unique, problems in fields such as architecture, engineering, management, law, medicine, and other disciplines.

Bridge the skill-set gaps

There are three aspects to fill the gap that exists. The first is “Vital for few” (highly skilled and strategic competent workforce) to identify jobs that require “highly variable and creative processes”. The demand for this is high and supply is less, so this segment commands high salaries. The consequence is that the prices of customised programmes/courses continue to soar. Market forces have spurred the development of cognitive technological applications that enhance the work of the professional learners. Digital technologies have augmented creative capabilities by leveraging machine-learning, predictive analytics, and data-mining capabilities with AI in highly specialised areas such as FinTech, Blockchain Technology, Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, Encryption and cybersecurity, among others. High variability in client inputs cascades throughout the process because unique problems call for customised solutions.

The second aspect is “Vital for many” (entire workforce) to identify the jobs that require less variable standardised processes that can more efficiently and effectively serve a broader client base. The demand for this is also high and supply is increasing with the opportunities to gain digital skills and other competencies through free access to online programmes. These approaches have led to less variable standardised skill sets in the market, and these services can be performed more economically with the help of technology leading to an efficient delivery to target customers. The in-demand jobs in this case will be computer systems troubleshooters and maintainers, digital marketing executives, customer service representatives, transport technology technicians, among others.

The third aspect that has a huge demand in emerging markets is a combination of the above skill-sets. Companies need employees who can multi-task effectively and are able to move smoothly from one activity to another. For this, the employee must be able to prioritise tasks and address the most critical and pressing demands (objectives and key result areas or OKRAs). In most emerging markets, there is a polychronic culture in which employers prefer employees who can engage in two or more tasks or events simultaneously, and believe that their preference is the correct way to do things. This can be achieved by pairing people and technology together in a collaborative way (known as COBOTICS). This can be achieved by using the ‘workforce analytics systems’.

The knowledge economy suggests that human skills along with technological resources will be the best combination to create a dynamic inclusive, sustainable, and resilient work environment that will demand massive investment in education and training in upskilling/reskilling of people for lifelong learning capabilities, and partnership with employers to narrow the gap between demand for skills and the workplace.

The views expressed are personal.

Prof. Balvinder Shukla is Professor of Entrepreneurship, Leadership and IT and Vice-Chancellor of Amity University Uttar Pradesh, Noida, India. Prof. Anupam Narula is Professor of Marketing and Dy. Director (Alumni Relations), Amity University, Uttar Pradesh, Noida, India.

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Printable version | May 6, 2021 6:43:26 PM |

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