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Davos Singapore: World Economic Forum in August — education, future of work on agenda

Editors note: It was announced on May 17, 2021, that the meeting has been postponed until the first half of 2022.

There won’t be any skiing on the sidelines of the Asia Davos summit this year.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) plans to hold its 2021 meeting in Singapore. Approximately 1,000 people will be attending the summit scheduled for Aug 17-20 at the Marina Bay Sands Complex.

The annual meeting gathers top business, academic, and political leaders to discuss the world’s most pressing issues. Usually held in Davos, Switzerland, the gathering was moved this year to Singapore, which is seen to be successfully managing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Singapore topped Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking in April, praised for getting locally-transmitted cases to near zero and rolling out vaccines already to a fifth of its population.

The Singapore meeting will be a hybrid conference with in-person and virtual participants.

Reimagining Education – Davos Agenda 2021

According to the Davos Agenda, with the disruption of work and education:

  • COVID-19 has made it challenging for vulnerable populations and marginalized groups to jobs and education.
  • The Davos Agenda is focusing on solutions to ensure the future of work and societal disruption are sustainable and inclusive.
  • To recover, skills gaps must be closed. The workplace needs to be more inclusive, and the health and well-being of workers is a priority

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated what was already on the horizon: Industry 4.0, the digitization of work, and online learning.

In the Future of Jobs report, a shift in the division of labor between humans and machines could displace an estimated 85 million jobs by 2025. With that transformation would also be 97 million new job roles.

Future of Jobs – WEF

Workplace trends

Zoom fatigue has been called a workplace trend of 2021. While incessant online meetings can be considered a “first world problem” many essential workers are unable to perform their jobs remotely. Many of these jobs roles are also threatened by digital transformation.

In the global reskilling emergency, how will intentional learning be one of the required mindsets to see every experience as an opportunity to learn something new?

Prior to the disruption of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Economic Forum set a goal of providing one billion people with better education, skills, and jobs by 2030.

Termed the “Reskilling Revolution” the report said, “The need to future-proof and boost people’s skills and livelihoods in the face of expected large-scale job displacement is even more urgent with the COVID-19 pandemic bringing about in months what most observers of technology-driven labor market change expected to see in years.” 

Closing the skills gap

WEF Work Humans Robots
Tasks performed by humans vs machines, 2021 & 2025 (expected) Source: WEF

While AI and robots may perform entire classes of jobs more efficiently than humans, but it will likely be decades for those effects to be fully felt. Business leaders and politicians have an opportunity to address training and development to counter labor and education policies that have left many workers locked in low-quality and low-paying jobs.

The economic disruption brought about by COVID-19 has widened the skills gap. The need to close it is more urgent.

With Skills Gap Accelerators, the WEF is calling for new investments and mechanisms for upskilling and reskilling, for both deeply human skills as well as digital skills.

Employers need to focus on retraining workers. Governments are needed to build provisions around upskilling and reskilling to prepare their workforce for the post-pandemic economy.

Klaus Schwab on WEF 2021 in Singapore

The World Economic Forum Special Annual Meeting 2021 in Singapore will be the first global leadership summit to address the challenges of recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and laying the basis for a more inclusive and sustainable world.

Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, said, “The Special Annual Meeting in Singapore in August will provide the place for leaders from business, government, and civil society to come together to address the steps for global recovery.”

LEARNTech Asia
LEARNTech Asia showcases innovation in learning in Asia. We feature stories and resources in online learning, workplace learning, adult education, EdTech, and creative solutions by teachers and trainers in learning institutions, non-profits, and enterprises that enhance human capacity and inspire communities of lifelong learners.