WEF and professional services firms team up to launch IT skills platform

19 February 2018 Consultancy.uk 4 min. read

The World Economic Forum has partnered with 10 professional services firms in order to deliver a new re-skilling platform. The IT skills hub, named SkillSET, aims to help over a million workers prepare for digitalised employment by 2021.

Now more than ever, the global workforce needs to acquire new information technology skills that will keep them employable in the post-digitisation landscape of future business. As the workplace utilisation of automation and technologies continues to rise, the occupational landscape in nearly every industry is in the midst of a significant shift. While today’s estimates vary, a recent McKinsey & Company study suggested that more than 5% of jobs could be completely replaced by technology, while over 60% of all work activities could be automated in the next 40 years.

WEF and professional services firms team up to launch IT skills platform

Despite employers becoming increasingly concerned by a digital talent gap resulting from this, as businesses face a growing need to staff their operations with tech-savvy employees, numerous reports suggest that such a skill-gap is set to grow rather than shrink in coming years. While staff in institutions such as the British Civil Service say that their employers are taking enough action to address this gap, in firms which are making an effort, high numbers of staff feel that their company’s training efforts are either “useless or boring”, meaning that the gap may continue to grow.

In order to help the global economy address this increasingly pertinent concern, the participants at the 2018 World Economic Forum in Davos have launched a new tech-reskilling drive, targeting one million workers over the next three years. The global group hopes to attract adults from all backgrounds, especially those from low-resource communities or under-represented groups who have historically had less access to the IT industry. The programme will initially target the US market, although there are plans to expand to other countries later in 2018, and the project will also continue to add member organisations over the next few months.

The WEF has dubbed the effort the IT Skills Initiative, which centres on the implementation of a new web training portal named SkillSET. Users will be given access to global IT companies’ training materials, which will cover subjects from general business skills to digital literacy to more advanced topics such as cybersecurity, big data or Internet of Things, with the free platform expected to become available from April.

Accenture, CA Technologies, Cisco Systems, Cognizant, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Infosys, Pegasystems, PwC, Salesforce, SAP and Tata Consultancy Services

Klaus Schwab, founder and Executive Chairman of the WEF, explained, “We need responsive solutions and coordination from all parts of society – governments, citizens and private industry alike – to re-envision an educational system based on lifelong learning that can fully prepare workers for the jobs of the future. This initiative is a clear example of industry leaders taking concerted, collective action to address a major social challenge at scale.”

The WEF IT Governors community is responsible for SkillSET, which recently came under the chairmanship of Chuck Robbins, Chairman and CEO of Cisco, while the platform’s founding partners are professional services firm PwC, whose skills assessment development will be used to meet the platform’s target of training over a million workers by 2021, along with global firms Accenture, CA Technologies, Cisco Systems, Cognizant, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Infosys, Pegasystems, Salesforce.com, SAP and Tata Consultancy Services.

Bob Moritz, Global Chairman at PwC International, said, "All over the world, people are asking themselves how they are going to prepare for their future, whether it's a new job, new responsibilities, or needed new skills. By working together across the public and private sectors, our hope is to enable new opportunities for people to carve their own paths, develop new skills, and future-proof themselves. By sharing our skills assessment, we believe more people around the world will be empowered to learn and grow professionally throughout their lives."