Human Capital Report 2016

Investing in human capital goes beyond an economic necessity

The Fourth Industrial Revolution will lead to profound shifts across all industries, reshaping production, consumption, transportation and delivery systems, among other factors. At the same time, the very nature of work is changing, in part due to new technologies and their subsequent impact on business models, and in part because of new platforms that allow talent to connect to markets in wholly new ways.

Managing these transitions for optimal outcomes for our societies will require visionary leadership and a wide range of new knowledge and skills. The development of relevant talent will determine whether we all partake in the opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution or experience its disruptions as bystanders. Much as these new technologies are disrupting labour markets, they also provide the potential to change how we learn throughout our lifetimes, how we educate the next generation and how we re-train those that are facing declining returns to their skills. They are also providing robust new data and metrics that allow us to understand the changes underway and manage them better.

This year’s Human Capital Report aims to combine public international statistics, qualitative perception data and big data metrics to provide a comprehensive picture of the situation today as well as the opportunities for the future. The Human Capital Index quantifies how 130 countries are developing and deploying their human capital, and tracks progress over time. It takes a life-course approach to human capital, evaluating the levels of education, skills and employment available to people in five distinct age groups. In addition to the Index, the Report also explores skills in-depth through a unique partnership with LinkedIn and the emerging shape of the labour market on digital platforms, using data from, Didi Chuxing, Uber and Upwork.

The leadership of governments, business leaders and educational institutions, and collaboration between them, is vital to strengthening the global talent value chain. The World Economic Forum’s System Initiative on Education, Gender and Work provides a platform for dialogue and collaboration between these stakeholders as well as a hub for the latest insights on the issue. In addition to the Human Capital Report, the Initiative provides a range of other tools for mapping current outcomes, forecasts and best practices, shedding light on the talent system broadly as well as specific aspects of it. The Initiative also serves as a platform to act on these findings, by engaging leaders in public-private partnerships to address education, gender and employment issues across regions and industries. Additionally, the Initiative offers a space for dialogue between leaders to develop trust and manage change.

We would like to express our appreciation to Till Leopold, Vesselina Ratcheva, Richard Samans and Saadia Zahidi for their leadership of this Report, and to the broader Education, Gender and Work team for their support to this project. We appreciate the unique data collaboration with LinkedIn, under the direction of Lutz Finger, as well as the input from other partners. Finally, we welcome the leadership and guidance of the Partners and Stewards of the Education, Gender and Work System Initiative and their commitment to addressing talent issues globally.

Investing in human capital goes beyond an economic necessity: it is the basis for all individuals to live up to their full potential. It is our hope that this latest edition of the Report and the platform offered by the Education, Gender and Work System Initiative will serve as a catalyst for unified leadership to positively shape the future of this system, unlocking the world’s latent talent, and, as such, ensure the progress of economies and societies alike.

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