Help governments and individuals prepare for a transforming world of work with the UN/J-WEL FutureSkills Challenge | MIT J-WEL

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Help governments and individuals prepare for a transforming world of work with the UN/J-WEL FutureSkills Challenge

UN / J-WEL co-sponsored challenge invites researchers, data scientists, entrepreneurs and other creative minds to forecast country-level skill trends

CAMBRIDGE, MA, November 14, 2019 -- As the pace of automation increases and the dynamics of global markets become more unpredictable, identifying the skills that will be in demand across geographies is an increasingly daunting and important issue. The United Nations Office of Information and Communication Technology and the MIT Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab are teaming up to identify promising solutions to this important problem through the UN FutureSkills Challenge. This multi-stakeholder challenge calls upon participants worldwide to contribute to the design of publicly available predictive models and datasets that can be used for forecasting skills trends at the country level.
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Rapid technological and economic shifts are changing both the types of jobs being demanded and the nature of the work in those jobs. This creates challenges for individuals, employers, educational institutions, and governments. People need better advice on how to gain the right skills to advance in their careers, while employers need data to hire the right workers and help their current employees gain useful skills. Educational institutions need information to plan workforce-relevant courses and programs, while governments need insight to help them invest in the right programs to improve the employability and financial security of their people. While some models exist to forecast trends in demand for skills and jobs, the UN Office of ICT and J-WEL recognize that much more is needed to help people identify the skills that are most important for the places in which they live and work.

"This challenge addresses issues that are core to the efforts of J-WEL Workforce Learning," says Susan Young, Assistant Director, Workforce Learning at J-WEL. "What skills are needed for the jobs of today and the future, and how can individuals, employers, and governments prepare? We are seeking the best solutions for understanding shifting skills needs worldwide so that, ultimately, we can provide the right skills to the right people, at the right time, at scale."

Good solutions will do one or more of the following at the country level: forecast changes in demand for each occupation in the next six months, one year, and five years; identify trends in skills that may be more or less in demand across occupations; and identify skill linkages or pathways between downward-trending occupations and upward-trending occupations and highlight which are the differentiating duties or tasks.

Submissions are accepted on the UN FutureSkills Challenge website through January 15, 2020, with pre-submission registration available now. Submissions to this challenge must include:

  • A short description of the methodology you propose and the specific datasets you utilize;
  • An online executable workbook showing step-by-step computations and justifications of your methodology providing preliminary results from your model;
  • A short video (1 to 5 minutes) explaining your solution; and
  • A repository of the original open-source code, data files, and other items used to execute your model (including license files).