Millennials must prepare for a lifetime of learning

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 Young women working with computers in IT | © Photo ILO

31 July 2017 – One in three people in the world was born between 1980 and 2000, and most of these millennials are in the workforce. Facing rapid changes in jobs due to technological advancements means that the most in-demand jobs today did not exist 10 years ago, and up to 65% of those entering primary school now are likely to work in jobs that are yet to be invented.

“The way people live and work is transformed by digital technologies. Digital skills are also key to young people’s employability and their employment prospects across all sectors of the economy in the increasingly connected and fast evolving world of work,” said Guy Ryder, the Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Although millennials are more educated than their predecessors, they are increasingly facing a harder time when it comes to employment.  A 2017 survey of 8,000 working millennials across 30 countries found that many did not think college had equipped them with the full range of skills, personal qualities, and experience today’s businesses are seeking. It is estimated that five years from now, more than a third of skills considered important today will no longer be relevant. Creativity and emotional intelligence will be among the top three needed.

Jobs are shifting away from traditional employee-employer jobs to non-employment jobs. Experts predict that freelance platforms such as UpWork will become more widespread and allow workers to get directly in touch with people and companies wanting their services.

Not knowing which jobs will be available after education is a problem for teachers and students as it is very difficult to prepare students for an unknown future. The investment in lifelong learning is therefore more crucial than ever.

“If I were entering the job market today, I would focus on two things. First, a willingness to learn throughout your life. There is no “end” to education; there are simply milestones of progress. Second, an openness to changing course. You do not have the luxury of being trained in one field or one profession only. In my life, I started as a lawyer, became a finance minister, and now lead the IMF. The generation about to enter the workforce will face even more twists and turns on their professional journey,” writes Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Finance and Development.

Quality education –or Sustainable Development Goal 4 – is  therefore becoming an increasingly important corner stone of Agenda 2030.

The ILO and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)  have launched the campaign “Digital Skills for Decent Jobs for Youth” which aims to mobilize investments to equip five million youth with digital skills globally and by 2030. This will be an important step towards shaping the workers of the future.