Fuente: Future Development (Referenciado por Observatorio de la Innovación)
The robots are coming and are taking our jobs. Or are they? The media and the blogosphere have been buzzing lately about the impact of artificial intelligence and robotics on our lives. In particular, the debate on the impact of automation on employment has amplified concerns about the loss of jobs in advanced economies. And accelerating technological change points the spotlight on questions like:
Cognitive and social and behavioral skills are a priority
Skills strategies should prioritize the formation of cognitive and social and behavioral skills in early childhood and school. Good cognitive and social and behavioral skills are necessary for gaining and improving technical skills throughout life. They make workers more resilient to technology-driven labor market shocks like automation. Skilled workers have even begun replacing robots in modern car production because they are more adaptable and flexible. On the contrary, adults with poor literacy and numeracy skills have difficulty learning and updating the technical skills needed to compete in the modern job market. All over the world, including in the United States and Europe jobs are shifting from routine tasks, which are prone to automation, towards interactive tasks, which require advanced cognitive and social and behavioral skills.
Yet many youth and adults in advanced and emerging economies have considerable basic cognitive skill deficits. Take the European Union (EU) for instance. In a majority of EU countries a fifth or more of 15 year-olds scored below functional literacy and numeracy in the mathematics and reading tests of the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). Poor performers often come from socially disadvantaged backgrounds, suggesting that education does not always present an opportunity for social mobility. This is bad economic and social news for countries with declining and aging populations.
Figure 1: Many young Europeans lack basic cognitive skills essential for 21st century jobs
Source: OECD PISA 2012.
What does such a skills strategy mean for 21st century education policy? First, governments should prioritize universal basic cognitive skills like reading and mathematics, emphasizing quality education for children from disadvantaged background who are disproportionately represented among poor performers in PISA. This starts with expanding quality early childhood development and education interventions to help stimulate brain development during the all-important early years. Strengthening social and behavioral skills in school, for example through “growth mindset” interventions, can be an effective tool to make up for disadvantage by boosting students’ confidence and goal orientation. Second, governments can take advantage of the opportunity provided by longer years of schooling: With students “captive” in kindergarten and school during the critical period of their skills formation, innovation in classroom and teaching practices, such as in Colombia’s Escuela Nueva model now adapted in PISA 2012’s success story Vietnam, can help foster advanced skills like problem-solving, critical thinking and team work. Third, the answer to the fast depreciation of technical skills is, beyond ensuring faster brains, a faster adaptation of technical education and training content through greater partnership between firms and universities and vocational schools. Technology and big data can help capture and better understand the evolution of occupations and technical skills needs in real time: Just let the robots work for us.