Both ideas hold an important grain of truth but both

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Both ideas hold an important grain of truth, but both seem to take it to an unrealistic and possibly counterproductive extreme. It is worth remembering, for instance, that not every citizen of Renaissance Florence was a polymath—most held regular jobs as bakers, merchants or accountants. There is little doubt, however, that the education system is proving increasingly inadequate to keep pace with the accelerating economic transformation. Building the right skills for the future will certainly require greater emphasis on STEM. As we have argued above, workers stand to benefit from the introduction of new technologies in the workplace. An increasing number of new opportunities, however, will hinge on workers’ abilities to understand and interact with new technologies. This does not imply that most workers will need degrees in engineering or computer science, or will all have to be coders— upskilling technologies will be increasingly accessible thanks also to improvements in user interfaces. But it does mean that workers will need to acquire a greater degree of familiarity and comfort with new technologies. The bar on scientific and digital literacy needs to be raised. We should think of scientific and technological literacy as the new basic literacy. In most countries, the idea that every individual should be equipped with basic reading and writing skills has long been accepted. It should now be extended to include basic knowledge of science and technology. While young people’s attitudes to science cannot be changed overnight, governments should urgently take concrete measures to ensure that a greater proportion of the workforce is equipped with STEM skills. These measures could include: a) implementing decisive curriculum reforms, b) creating strong fiscal incentives for companies to partner with schools and universities, c) developing active labor market policies with training for unemployed to tackle STEM shortages, accompanied by more Vocational Education Training in STEM. The education system should also renew its efforts to nurture creativity, critical thinking and problem-solving abilities: across industry and other economic sectors, decision-making is becoming increasingly data-driven; advanced analytics and Artificial Intelligence provide workers and managers at most levels of the organization additional powerful tools; it becomes all the more important for workers to be able to fully leverage the potential of these new tools, and this requires the ability to correctly frame the problem and the most effective approach to a solution. Similarly, managers need to think about how to address problems and develop strategies in light of the new information made available by digital technologies, and the insights that can gleamed from these data.
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