Just 20 years into the 21st century, we have already seen remarkable changes that we could never have anticipated. We've come up with 20 predictions that explore what the next 20 years may have in store for your organization.

Twenty years from now, lines between people's learning and working lives will be increasingly joined. Learning will not be something you graduate from to transition to a job but will be a lifelong journey of upskilling and micro-credentialing to keep up with exponential advances in technology and changes in the workplace that will build a better economy and society.

Lifelong learning will become a human need

Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and automation will make collaboration between machines and humans in the workplace commonplace. As technology automates repetitive, mundane tasks, workers will be more engaged with rewarding higher-level tasks. This shift will see employers place a higher value on traditional 'soft skills' such as critical thinking, creativity and empathy.

The universities of the future will be unlike those of today. Rather than just traditional academic degrees, they will offer extended programmes into which students can dip in and out as their careers evolve to secure micro-credentials—which are based on demonstrating a specific skill in a specific area. Personalization will be key, with flexible and modular curriculums, and learning tools that adjust to different learning styles and preferences.

Post-secondary institutions will redefine how they deliver learning to better support a diverse range of students. This will allow students of all ages and backgrounds to become more independent learners, accessing mentoring and flexible support when needed, that will make them more marketable in the workplace.

Advanced technology—from robots and holograms to augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR)—will enhance the education experience in classrooms and workplace learning, taking students where they otherwise couldn't go, such as down a mineshaft or into outer space, the bottom of the ocean or inside the human body. Technologies such as VR, AI and cloud-based learning management systems will spur the growth of smart content.

While post-secondary institutions will embrace technology, digital skills alone will not be enough for the future workforce to prosper. Employers will increasingly also look for workers proficient in traditional 'soft skills' such as communication, emotional intelligence, empathy, creative problem-solving and the ability to deal with change and ambiguity. Micro-credentialing, which is competency-based and hyper-focused, will play a key role here as well. So, an engineer or mining graduate might also get credentials in entrepreneurship, collaboration, and social consciousness.

Educators at different institutions will not only work together but the team approach will work across various departments within institutions as well as with employers in the workforce. Businesses will play a key role in facilitating ongoing learning, providing employees with training to meet economic and business needs. Already, Google offers micro-credentials for its various tools and applications, which can be completed at students' convenience.1 There will be a reduced requirement for formal education as an entry criterion to many jobs—some large firms are already waiving this requirement today.

Individuals in the future will have many more choices about how and when they access education, and employers will have workers with the up-to-date skill sets they need to prosper. This will be a great boon for society 20 years from now, stimulating economic growth through improved productivity and greater innovation, and spurring greater engagement and satisfaction among workers.

1 Introducing the Google Basics Micro-Credential, teq.com, April 13 2021

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Trends, breakthroughs, milestones, and insights on our path towards micro-credentialling, upskilling, and lifelong learning.

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