Cutting-edge technologies like blockchain, advanced biosciences, and AI are significant growth opportunities for the world’s biggest economies.

Yet new analysis from Accenture Research suggests that today’s education and training systems are generally ill-equipped to deal with such new tools. This jeopardizes these opportunities at a time of weak productivity gains and, for some economies, slow GDP growth.

Here are five statistics from our “Bridging the Skills Gap” study that every learning leader should know as they chart their course to the future.

$11.5 trillion of growth at risk

If the skill-building systems of today do not catch up with the rate of technological progress, the economic consequences could be significant. Accenture’s analysis indicates it could cost G20 economies US$11.5 trillion in cumulative GDP growth over the next decade. That’s equivalent to the loss of more than an entire percentage point from the average annual GDP growth rate over that period.

The amount of GDP growth at risk is not evenly distributed across the G20. China has most has stake, with $5,447 billion of growth at risk. India and the US follow at $1,970 billion and $975 billion respectively. Australia is the least exposed with $113 billion of growth at risk.

Figures for every G20 economy and a detailed explanation of study methods can be found in the full report.

90% of worker time could change

The vast majority of worker time will be changed by either automation or intelligent augmentation. Most of this change (51 percent) will be due to augmentation. Contrary to views that automation will destroy huge numbers of jobs, just 38 percent of worker time across all roles analyzed has the potential to be automated.

However, the impact of these technologies will not be the same across different roles. For instance, Accenture Research’s analysis projects that about two thirds of physical manual labor time could be automated by intelligent technologies, but just 18 percent of science and engineering work time is susceptible to automation.

65-point difference in retention rates

A US National Training Laboratory study found that knowledge retention rates for training through virtual reality were 75 percent, while those for reading-based learning were 10 percent. (Lecture-style learning produced even lower rates.)

Virtual reality and other forms of experiential learning are among the most important tools available to teach the new skills that will unlock the promise of intelligent technologies. Thanks to advances in neuroscience and technology, experiential learning tools are more effective and easier to access than ever.

2.5 times more susceptible

Accenture analysis indicates that 69 percent of low-skilled work is susceptible to automation compared with 27 percent of high-skilled work. In other words, low-skilled workers are much more vulnerable to displacement by automation.

To truly close the skills gap, education and corporate learning systems will need to be accessible to everyone. Any learning transformation program will need to include targeted interventions for workers of differing skill levels.

150,000 workers trained in 18 months

Accenture’s own efforts to reskill its workforce are built on applied neuroscience research and experiential learning principles. The framework has helped us upskill 150,000 of our workers in ‘new IT’ in 18 months through a combination of classroom training and fieldwork.

These statistics do not tell the whole story, but they do provide a high-level view for learning leaders looking to shape the future of the learning experience.

To learn more, download the full report here.

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