Report Summary

As technology becomes more pervasive, traditional trades disappear and the world of work becomes more globalised and collaborative, the skills demanded by employers are shifting. So how can education best prepare young people to navigate their way through an increasingly interconnected and complex world?

To shed light on these issues, The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) embarked on a research programme, sponsored by Google, to examine to what extent the skills taught in education systems around the world are changing. For example, are so-called 21st-century skills, such as leadership, digital literacy, problem solving and communication, complementing traditional skills such as reading, writing and arithmetic? And do they meet the needs of employers and society more widely?

Key findings include:

  • 50% of teachers, students and executives cite problem solving as the most important skill for potential employers, with 70% expecting its importance to increase over the next 3 years
  • In addition to problem solving, teamwork & communication are also cited as the most in-demand skills in the workplace
  • 51% of executives say a skills gap is hampering their organisational performance and only 34% claim to be satisfied with the level of attainment of young people entering the company
  • Despite a minority of 18-25-year-olds reporting that their education had provided them with the skills needed in the workplace, 77% claim to be confident or very confident about their career prospects
  • 85% of teachers say that technological advances have changed the way they teach, but only 27% claim to be very confident in developing digital literacy in their students
Our children will create the future. We need to train people to have the creativity to reinterpret the world.
Yong Zhao, director, Institute for Global and Online Education, University of Oregon


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