AI-based learning is key to sustained employment growth in post-Covid-19 economy

The pandemic has underpinned the need for transforming the transition from education to employment and improving skill sets of existing workforce

Dollars Closeup Concept. American Dollars Cash Money. One Hundred Dollar Banknotes. Getty Images
Powered by automated translation

Artificial intelligence-based learning will help to overcome current educational challenges and prepare people to become an effective part of the workforce as the global economy continues to evolve, according to a taskforce aligned to this year's G20 summit.

Economies around the globe are reeling from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, underpinning the need to improve the transition from education to employment and to radically improve the skills of those already employed, according to Taskforce 6 (TF6) of Think20, the policy advice and research think tank of the G20.

“Pre-Covid-19, the fourth industrial revolution was already rebalancing employment away from repetitive manual work, in favour of automated, AI-supported roles,” Paul Grainger, co-director for the Centre for Educations and Work and the co-chair of TF6, said in a statement on Tuesday.

“The rapid technological migration businesses have been forced to undertake during 2020 has highlighted the skill gap among over 35s and the need to balance education reform between the youth population and the missing generation of adults whose jobs are being replaced by technology,” he added.

The global unemployment rate  reached 8.4 per cent in May and is likely to climb to 9.4 per cent by the end of 2020 due to the pandemic, according to Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development data. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) forecasts that the virus could cause the equivalent of 195 million job losses in the global economy.

T20 predicts that economies heavily reliant on traditional service industries – retail and wholesale, food and accommodation, business services and administration and manufacturing – which together account for up to 37.5 per cent of global employment, will be most affected by the pandemic.

Manufacturing could be the least hit of these groups, however, as demand for goods is still high, it said.

TF6 laid out its recommendations on how G20 members, the world’s 20 biggest industrialised economies, can address their individual challenges to ensure their economies can recover and achieve sustained growth, as the increased use of AI changes the employment landscape in the digital age.

To bridge the generational skills gap, it recommended regulating industry micro-credentials and government funding for workplace learning for people in traditional sectors and those working within the platform and gig economies. The promotion of interactive AI for skills as a learning aid and the development of technical and vocational education training institutions will also help to extend AI-based learning to existing and future workforce, it added.

“The policies TF6 has chosen to focus on will have a direct impact on how we, as an international community, shape our immediate future,” Heidi Alaskary, visiting senior research fellow at the King Faisal Centre for Research and Islamic Studies and lead co-chair of TF6, said.

“It is evident we are on the cusp of a significant global change and areas of reform, such as the reliance on AI, have shifted from being interesting concepts to becoming critical conversations that require urgent attention.”

The cost of training will continue to be a barrier for many, a challenge exacerbated by the economic implications of Covid-19. However, the only way countries can affect long-lasting change and move into the future of work is with “global cooperation on minimum standards within technical and vocational training”, TF6 said.