Strengthening the Global Workforce
2U’s Vice President of Global Social Impact & Innovation shares the latest and greatest on the ways that we’re working with organizations from local to global to deliver life-changing opportunities to learn for individuals who need them the most.
This is the third in our series of leadership insights connected to our 2022 Transparency & Outcomes Report, which contextualize the importance of the data we've published and how we’re activating on our findings into the future.
Technology is on track to revolutionize over 1.1 billion jobs in the next decade, according to the OECD. Despite this looming change, it's startling to note that only 0.5% of the global GDP is currently devoted to lifelong learning for adults—a disparity that 2U is deeply committed to addressing.
In my role as vice president of global social impact and innovation at 2U, I have been energized by the opportunity to help solve this problem head on through the work we do under edX for Impact – a collective effort to help marginalized learners get the education they need in order to develop the skills and careers they deserve. The programs are typically funded by corporate, foundation, local, state, and government partners, and provided at no cost to learners. This work includes Access Partnerships, a workforce development model pioneered by 2U that brings together nonprofit universities, companies, governments, and local workforce development agencies to create free or substantially cost-reduced pathways to job-relevant tech skills for marginalized or underserved communities. Since inception, over 3,000 learners have enrolled in these programs.
edX for Impact is not just important for improving the lives of learners and economies on a regional scale, but vital for the global workforce. For example, the World Economic Forum's 2023 Future of Jobs Report reveals that 60% of global workers need upskilling by 2027, yet only half can access quality training. By addressing this issue, we could potentially enhance the global GDP by an estimated $11.5 trillion by 2028. Governments must, therefore, prioritize providing their citizens with the necessary education to navigate and prosper in a future dominated by rapid technological advancements. As the creators of public policies and programs, they have an obligation to equip their citizens with the vital skills necessary to spur economic growth, establish a competitive workforce, and maintain resilience in the face of adversity.
Having witnessed it myself, I can attest to the profound impact of policies and programs aimed at enhancing educational access through greater investment in digital education. Digital education has opened up new opportunities and has the potential to upskill a more diverse global audience. The collaborative efforts between employers, educational institutions, community organizations, and governmental organizations, coupled with the adoption of non-traditional and lifelong learning, give me confidence that we are making significant strides in strengthening the global workforce.
In 2022, 2U embarked on collaborations with governmental bodies in countries such as Ukraine and the UK, where we work with the Department for Education to fund 1,200 seats for a fully online Skills Bootcamp in front-end web development. Through our edX for Impact work, we collectively implemented initiatives designed to bridge the unique skills gaps in these regions, connecting their citizens to the critical learning opportunities they need. We continue to build on the great momentum from last year – this year we’ve announced more partnerships under edX for Impact, most recently this new initiative with Jobs for the Future. Through this work, we’re connecting individuals with job interviews, while providing free access to a MicroBachelors program certificate that can help them on a pathway to a full degree.
By continuing to invest in educational opportunities focused on the skills needed for the future of work, we can empower individuals to adapt to the changing job market, drive economic growth, and create a more inclusive and prosperous future for all.
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