Daily Archives: September 5, 2018

Innovation and the fourth industrial revolution

Innovation is as old as humans themselves and is seen as a major driver for human progress and wellbeing.  However, when innovation peaks in society, major changes take place and sometimes influence dramatically the societal development, like the industrial revolution.

These innovation waves can be described in different ways, the World Economic Forum, describes the current wave emerging as the fourth industrial revolution, 4IR, – where one credo is all what can be digitalized will be.

And the world has got a new justification for why innovate: The 17 Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs.

AI and CT

One of the aspects with this innovation wave, the 4IR, has been concern over the speed of development and possible impact from Artificial Intelligence, AI, and Cognitive Technologies, CT.  E.g. as said by Stephen Hawking, “AI could be the biggest event in the history of our civilization. Or the worst. We just don’t know.” For many, the speed of destruction of jobs have been a major concern. Before during waves of innovation, more jobs have been created than destroyed – but findings from reports like the one in 2013 from Oxford university, Frey and Osborne, indicate that almost 50% of current jobs in the USA will be destroyed. The problem is off course that if the speed in job destruction is much higher than job creation – major human and societal problems will occur.

New reports, new findings – job destruction is hyped – changes in jobs not

Three new reports provide important findings and suggestions on the impact from Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive technologies.  Thanks to BBC and Financial Times – new findings have got attention, represented with the fresh report “Automation, skills use and training” (OECD, March 2018). The report suggests that 14 % of the jobs in OECD countries are “highly automatable” which is far fewer than suggested by Frey and Osborne.

MacKinsey in December 2017 launched the report “Jobs lost, jobs gained: Workforce transitions in a time of automation”. This report is also much more moderate than Frey and Osborn, and suggests that advanced economies will create sufficient new jobs to offset the impact of automation by 2030. “Globally, however, the workforce transitions ahead will be very large. Between 75 million and 375 million people may need to switch occupational group by 2030 due to automation, and will need to learn new skills or increase their level of education in order to find work” it says. Other findings of interest are for example estimates for differences in job creation and destruction in developing and developed countries.  In both cases, by the way, education is a big “job winner”.

The policy note “The Age of Artificial Intelligence, Towards a European Strategy for Human-Centric Machines” suggests that “AI holds the promise of addressing some of the world’s most intractable challenges, from climate change and poverty to disease. Used in bad faith, it can lead the world on a downward spiral of totalitarianism and war, endangering – according to Hawking – the very survival of humankind itself.” Furthermore, it suggests that the situation has to be met by A European Strategy for AI which:

  • “Support. Build an environment that is favorable to the development and uptake of AI technologies
  • Educate. Focus on individuals to build AI skills and educate users
  • Enforce. Deploy and adapt traditional policy tools to tackle economic and societal challenges posed by AI
  • Steer. Ensure a human-centric approach that guarantees the highest level of welfare for citizens”

The goal, the note argue, should be a society where people feel empowered, not threatened by AI.

Why focusing on this?

First of all, we are in the start of a huge disruptive wave that will post challenges, opportunities and cause major changes in education worldwide.  Awareness is important.

Secondly, higher education institutions and systems should establish competencies, courses and “innovation labs” for AI and CT.

Thirdly, higher education should actively engage in the policy debate on meeting educational, economic

al and societal challenges posted by AI and CT.

Fourthly, higher education should actively take part in the ethical and governance debate on AI and CT to ensure a human-centric approach.

This message and similar has been provided when presenting an ICDE reflections on digitalization and the new waves of innovation, for example at the latest during the 1st International meeting on management and regulation of Health Work, 26-28  March 2018, Brasilia, Brazil, presenting “The International Panorama on Innovation in the Public Sector

ICDE has a partner that does an excellent and innovative job in creating awareness and knowledge on new and emerging technologies, including AI and CT – Showcasing innovations in online learning – Virtually Inspired. A very relevant and timely initiative that I urge to share and contribute to.

The ICDE agenda: Lifelong learning at the center

For ICDE a big issue derives from the current development, and that is the importance of the next generation policies, concept and methodologies for Lifelong Learning.

One thing is the creation of new and destruction of old jobs, but the other thing is that almost all jobs will be affected of the rapid development and therefore represent a massive call for lifelong learning.  This calls for a collaborative effort we have not yet seen.

Lifelong learning – a cliché or the new concept for fuelling achievement for the sustainable development goals?

No doubt that lifelong learning is on its way up. You can see this for the number of initiatives popping up, the ICDE Lillehammer Lifelong Learning Summit and the  50th EUCEN conference, both promoted in the newsletter.  The focus of the UNESCO 3rd World Conference on Higher Education (2020) will be on universities as communities of lifelong learning. And many, many more. New reports galvanize the justification for giving priority to lifelong learning: The Economist special report on lifelong education “Learning and earning” (January 2018), the World Economic Forum on “Towards a Reskilling Revolution. A Future of Jobs for All” (January 2018), the foresight “Future of skills and lifelong learning”  (November 2017) from the UK government are good examples.

The report from the Swedish government “Digitaliseringen och den statliga arbetsgivarpolitiken” (April 2018 – in Swedish – translated “Digitalisation and the governmental employer policy”) recommends a new governmental system for lifelong learning, competency development and readjustment.  The report from Royal Bank of Canada “Humans Wanted. How Canadian youth can thrive in the age of disruption” (April 2018) among others delivers suggestions for future skills needs. (You can read Tony Bates summary here).

In the previous blogpost by the ICDE Secretary General he just wrote that the current innovation wave, the fourth industrial revolution, seen in the perspective of the 17 sustainable development goals: “represents a massive call for lifelong learning.  This calls for a collaborative effort we have not yet seen”.

This is just a small selection of examples showing that the ideas, thinking and suggestions for the future of lifelong learning are boiling. A good reason for planning your trip to Lillehammer, Norway, for 11 – 13 February 2019: “to shape the future of lifelong learning”!

Gard Titlestad

ICDE Secretary General

Three measures to ensure that nobody exceeds their ‘best by’ date

In her New Year’s speech, Prime Minister Erna Solberg stated, ‘no one in the Norwegian labour market will exceed their “best by” date’. At the national meeting for the Conservative Party just recently, she followed up by proposing greater facilitation of courses for people who work, and a stronger focus on vocational subjects and vocational education. We welcome what we perceive as a cross-policy agreement to invest more in postgraduate education. We will do our best to live up to the expectations, but we do believe that politicians are thinking too small.

At the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), we have an ambition to double the extent of postgraduate and further education in the full breadth of our business in the coming three years. We are doing this, because we can see that work life will be in need of an increase in flexible and updated competence. The importance of learning throughout your life is increasing, due to the pace of technological changes being faster than ever. It is tempting to resort to the saying ‘Anyone who considers themselves finished with education, is not educated, but finished’.

Education and the development of knowledge has made Norway one of the best countries to live in. Through the 1900s, the population gained an increasingly higher level of education. In parallel, the universities grew from being elitist institutions for the few, to becoming available to many. Today, approximately one-third of all Norwegians have higher education. We have developed a well-founded culture for education and

Why is this well-founded education culture broken when it comes to continuing education? The arrows are pointing down. From 2008 to 2017, the number of people who took part in formal further education (which provides credits) fell from 11 to 8%, according to statistics from the Norwegian Committee on Skill Needs. This should set the alarm bells ringing.

Work life is screaming for replenishment of new skills. Politicians are saying that something must happen now and the employees are motivated. Then why are fewer than before committing to lifelong learning?

We believe that the explanation is related to conditions and flexibility not being good enough. An improvement in the facilitation for is a step in the right direction, but it is not enough.

Three gears are mainly holding the machinery that keeps continuing education in motion. They are connected, but seem to be lacking grease. Greasing just one of the wheels to increase the extent is unfortunately not enough. We would like to point out three areas where changes should be implemented;

  • First, the frame conditions for work life must change; so that it pays to invest in competence. This applies to both the public and private sector. To introduce ‘CompetenceFUNN’ – a tax deduction scheme for companies’ investments in competence – is one of several measures likely to have a good effect.
  • Secondly, employees need clear incentives. It is in NTNU’s opinion that financial means should be considered, among others.
  • Thirdly, the university sector must be better placed to meet the needs. If we are to be able to double the extent of continuing and further education, we depend on clear financial arrangements. The Ministry of Education and Research’s development agreement with us and the other institutions must be adjusted for us to have a buffer reducing the risk of building up flexible offers fast, and following the needs and business conditions.

We must acknowledge that, today, we have a system that leads to fewer adults than before going back to school (physically or digitally). Our nation’s future is depending on that we manage to turn this trend for continuing and further education.

We urge Iselin Nybø, Torbjørn Røe Isaksen and the rest of the government to make the necessary political changes, together with the universities and work life. NTNU are ready to contribute.

N.B: If you have not yet registered interest for the ICDE Lillehammer Lifelong Learning Summit 2019 in Lillehammer, February 11. – 13. 2019, do so today! 

The Summit is hosted by Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences

By Rector Gunnar Bovim and Pro-rector for Education, Anne Borg, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)