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The Future of Education – A Shift Towards Blended and Lifelong Learning

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The COVID-19 pandemic has brought significant disruptions to the global education system. Widespread school closures and a sudden shift to distance learning resulted in worsening educational inequality and substantial learning losses. This emphasised the need to transform and strengthen education systems through technologies and teacher upskilling so that every child has access to inclusive and equitable quality education. A blended learning approach can provide opportunities and flexibility necessary for the future of education.

Furthermore, the pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented labour market crisis and accelerated workplace automation, incentivising further investment in skills development and lifelong learning. Human capital accumulation is a key to building resilience to future crises and promoting sustained and inclusive economic growth in the long term. As a result, investments in human capital should be at the heart of post-COVID-19 recovery strategies.

Education industry increasingly invests in emerging technologies and adopts blended learning methods

A transition to remote learning during the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies within the education industry. Schools in cooperation with governments and the private sector have developed distance learning solutions to ensure learning continuity. Education technology companies, such as Byju’s, Coursera and EdX, have supported educational institutions by offering free access to online courses to students and free teaching resources to educators. As the demand for online learning has skyrocketed, many edtech start-ups have attracted record-high investments, leading to significant expansion in recent years.

image03twq.pngSource: Euromonitor International from trade sources, national statistics

Although online education cannot replace all functions that in-person classes can offer, the pandemic underlined that student learning needs to be transformed and augmented by technologies. Online schooling offers numerous benefits when compared with face-to-face instruction, including a more personalised, interactive and flexible learning environment. Moreover, online learning can be offered free of time and geographic constraints, increasing access to learning opportunities amid rising technology adoption across the world. For these reasons, the education industry is expected to increasingly invest in emerging technologies and adopt blended learning methods, which combine in-person instruction with online learning activities.


Source: Euromonitor International from national statistics, International Telecommunications Union (ITU)

Emerging technologies and collaboration tools coupled with new teaching methods will be essential to provide interactive, inclusive and personalised hybrid learning experiences. Digital technologies support and enable teachers to improve their instruction methods. For instance, the integration of game-based activities into the learning process can help improve student engagement and motivation, especially among younger pupils. In addition, learning analytics systems can help teachers assess their students' performance in the classroom and make informed decisions to improve learning outcomes. Furthermore, the use of digital tools helps save time and gain efficiency in administrative work. However, a lack of digital skills among educators remains a major barrier to blended learning. With a shift to a digital curriculum, it is critical for both teachers and students to build digital skills and understand how to use technologies effectively. Consequently, it is crucial to empower teachers and raise investments in teachers’ professional development to enhance their skills and exploit the full potential of blended learning.

Lifelong learning is essential to thrive in the future of work

In a fast-changing world, people will need to embrace lifelong learning in order to succeed both personally and professionally. Demographic changes, globalisation reset, digitalisation and the COVID-19 pandemic have fundamentally transformed the way that organisations conduct business and helped to reshape skill needs. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), 85 million jobs could be displaced by workplace automation and cause a shift in labour division between humans and machines by 2025. On the other hand, 97 million new jobs could emerge by 2025, due to the accelerating pace of technology adoption and growing demand for new products and services. As a result, businesses will increasingly face difficulties in finding employees with the skills that are needed to operate and innovate successfully. Future jobs will be focused on solving unstructured, complex problems. For these reasons, employees will need to possess a well-rounded combination of hard and soft skills, such as critical thinking, problem-solving and creativity, to succeed in the workplace.

image0u50l.pngSource: Euromonitor International from trade sources, national statistics
Note: Data are expressed in constant 2020 prices, using fixed 2020 exchange rate

Preparing the workforce for the age of automation is essential, calling for urgent and collaborative action from the public and private sectors. The education system needs to transform and become more responsive to labour market needs in order to create a highly talented, resilient and adaptive workforce. At the same time, countries need to scale-up investments in reskilling and upskilling and upgrade adult learning and training systems to engage more people in lifelong learning and help them prepare for the jobs of tomorrow. Moreover, companies need to boost investments in employee professional development to help reduce skills gaps and provide training opportunities using formal and informal methods, including internal and external expertise as well as online learning platforms.

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