The Global Search for Education: Jobsolescence – A Conversation with USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson

We often hear about the need for more STEM education. But I think there is an equal need for a greater emphasis on the humanities and the arts for their intrinsic value as well as for developing skills and character qualities as described above.

The Global Search for Education: Jobsolescence – A Conversation with USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson

“I think the guiding principle for government should be to protect and enable/retrain the worker, not protect the job. Policy makers and educators should focus on making sure that workers are as equipped as possible to transition to new opportunities…” — Peter Robinson

In an economy with a significant on-demand labor force, what competencies will these workers need to compete?

There are two types of competencies that will be needed: “technical” – or in other words, related to deep knowledge of a specific domain, whether welding or optogenetics; and “transversal,” which applies to all occupations. Those are described by the Center for Curriculum Redesign as skills (creativity, critical thinking, communication, collaboration), character (mindfulness, curiosity, courage, resilience, ethics, leadership) and meta-learning (growth mindset, metacognition).

How will managerial skill requirements change as a result of major structural changes that are likely, including human replacement by machines and growth of the on-demand economy?


OECD’s BIAC surveys of 50 employer organizations worldwide has shown that employers value not just Skills as described above, but also Character qualities as well. Further, it is becoming clear that Versatility matters, in a constantly changing world, so Jim Spohrer’s IBM model of a “T-shaped” person holds true: broad and deep individuals capable of adapting and going where the demand lies.

What central changes in school curricula do you envision, both at the secondary school and college levels?


We often hear about the need for more STEM education. But I think there is an equal need for a greater emphasis on the humanities and the arts for their intrinsic value as well as for developing skills and character qualities as described above. As David Barnes of IBM wrote recently, these skills are more durable and are also a very good indicator of long-term success in employment.

How can the evolving changes in competencies required for employment be effectively translated into school curricula? Where are the main opportunities to enable this? e.g. Assessment systems? Business/Education collaboration? Curriculum change?


I’d go back to something else David Barnes said: We need much stronger connections between education and the job market, in the form of more partnerships among employers, governments and education institutions. Everyone needs to step up and create true partnerships. No one sector of society can address this alone. OECD’s BIAC has also documented employers’ wishes for deep curricular reforms to modernize content and embed competencies in order to meet today’s market needs.

What role should government play in ensuring citizens receive a quality and relevant education given the challenges that lie ahead?

I think the guiding principle for government should be to protect and enable/retrain the worker, not protect the job. Policy makers and educators should focus on making sure that workers are as equipped as possible to transition to new opportunities as these develop, and on ensuring that businesses have the freedom to pivot and adopt new technologies and business processes.

This content is made possible by our Sponsors and the views expressed in this article may not necessarily reflect the editorial or management position of MNI Alive Media. For more information see our advertising guidelines.