Voices from Accenture Public Service


Technology is disrupting education – as it is every other industry. But education is also a little different to other industries. Why? Because it uniquely creates our future capabilities. It’s therefore more important than ever that educational institutes and governments plan for the future of work and life.

Lifelong learning is now essential. The future of work will see people having multiple careers over a much longer working life than they do today. As technology disrupts our society, we need to both adapt to working with technology and to shifting to new careers as technology and automation augment traditionally human tasks. Lifelong learning is also implicit in our humanity – we are by nature explorers and creators – and the opportunity to learn should inspire our lives.

One purpose of learning is to develop the skills for work – these can be broken down into ‘hard skills’ – what you need to know to perform a set of activities (like programming); plus ‘soft skills’ – what you need to do to make your contribution effective (like collaboration, communication and persuasion).

Digital technologies will make self-employment a viable option for more people at the top end of the gig economy. Those in self-employment are likely to evolve their own personal brand to differentiate themselves and help them get ahead in their field of work. The best people are going to command high prices through the gig economy. Platform business models will enable the market to find talent and quality at an appropriate price point for each person or business.

Skills can be demonstrated through various mechanisms such as certifications. These mechanisms are important as they create trust and credibility in your capabilities. Trust in skills will be a critical influence in the future of learning and the future of work.

In the future we’re likely to see a stronger focus on both certifications and experience, as digital technology makes worker credentials more transparent and accessible. For this reason, we may see a shift in the profile of work:

  • People with specialist skills may find that contract work gives them greater returns than traditional employment.
  • Organisations that focus on personal development will offer attractive ways to build skills and credibility for the market. Employment experience will become more important in developing personal brands.
  • Professional certifications and peer reviews will become more important in validating the credentials of specialist talent.
  • Organisations that focus on using specialist talent to solve bigger problems will still be relevant. Given the complexity of working collaboratively, a key differentiator will be how the organisation can orchestrate talent from different specialisms to solve a business problem.
  • Platforms will emerge that help to balance supply and demand for services in the gig economy.
  • Work will increasingly relocate to match supply and demand – digital platforms will make the connection between worker and task simpler.
  • Geographic specialisation will increase, with cities choosing certain industries to promote and sponsor. Cities will start to become specialist as we ourselves become specialist.

Educational institutes will need to adapt to these new models of work and learning. There will be stiff competition for top talent between educational institutes and businesses that offer certifications to employees.

How do you think education needs to evolve for our future?


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