Maximizing Learning and Employment in the Fourth Industrial Revolution
The Human Capital Index is composed of two horizontal sub-themes: Learning and Employment.
The Employment theme spans, among other things, economic participation, overeducation and undereducation relative to available job opportunities and the nature and quality of employment in each country. The Learning theme points to the transition from primary through to vocational and tertiary level education, the quality of that education, as well as opportunities for learning in the workplace—whether through formal courses or the day-to-day, on-the-job acquisition of tacit know-how in a complex working environment.11 (For full details of the Index structure, please refer to Table A1.)
Countries should aim to maximize human capital outcomes across both themes. The challenge lies not only in equipping a nation’s workforce with timely and relevant knowledge and skills but also in deploying these skills in high quality jobs throughout all age groups.
As illustrated in Figure 7, the Index reveals uneven levels of Learning and Employment outcomes across the world.12 Broadly speaking, economies fall into four groups. First, countries such as Finland (1) have developed and deployed their human capital across both dimensions, maximizing their human capital potential. Second, economies such as Rwanda (110) and Vietnam (68) are doing well on deploying their workforce but could radically improve their Index performance and boost their human capital potential by further improving Learning outcomes to keep pace with the requirements of a complex modern economy. Third, a number of countries, such as Saudi Arabia (87) and Korea, Rep. (32), have well-educated populations and perform well across the Learning theme but could do more to also leverage this accumulated human capital potential across the Employment theme. Often, additional progress could be made through more inclusive labour markets, including for women, youth and older people. Finally, in economies such as India (105) and Nigeria (127) efforts are needed to simultaneously improve the development as well as deployment of the nation’s human capital potential across the Learning and Employment dimensions for all age groups.
The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report,13 among a range of other research, has highlighted that perhaps 60% of children entering primary school today might ultimately work in job types that currently don’t yet exist. This will create opportunities for countries to improve their performance in unexpected ways while cautioning others against resting on their past successes.
For example, the learning and employment landscape of the Fourth Industrial Revolution will increasingly be shaped not only by technology-enabled education but also by the emergence of digital talent platforms, amplifying people’s potential to develop and deploy their skills and experience beyond geographic boundaries while enabling employers to engage and integrate a globally dispersed workforce.14
Moreover, as both the demand and supply of skills and jobs migrate to a digital environment, there is a new horizon for understanding Learning and Employment. The emergence of digital talent platforms and advances in “big data” analytics increasingly make it possible to complement standardized international statistics to understand a country’s evolving skills requirements and labour market changes in near-real time.15
Accordingly, the following two sections of the Report look at the results of the Human Capital Index—first, with a focus on Learning, then, with a focus on Employment, contextualizing each theme with unique data compiled for this Report in collaboration with LinkedIn and other World Economic Forum partners.