The beginning of the 21st century has been marked by rapid advances in technological innovation—from smart phones and big data to artificial intelligence and machine learning. While new technology can generate jobs and increase labor productivity, it also creates job displacement and widens the skills gap. Today’s generation of young people now face a world in which nearly half of today’s jobs globally—around 2 billion—are at risk of becoming obsolete due to automation and technological advancement in the coming decades.

A job for life is now a thing of the past. The World Bank estimates that 4 out of 5 children entering primary school today will eventually hold jobs that do not currently exist. These fast-changing realities create ripple effects on communities worldwide, but the world’s poorest are likely to be the most adversely affected by these market shifts.

The ability to acquire new skills throughout life, to adapt, and to work flexibly will be of particular importance. So too will be technical, social, and critical thinking skills. Quality learning opportunities must be created by governments, cross-sector industry leaders, and local communities alike to encourage learning experiences that are adapted to today’s world, and that drive income generation, reduce inequality, and provide a prosperous future for all.

Building on sustainable development environment for education to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, how can disadvantaged children and young people develop the skills they need to participate in the workforce of the future and thrive in the 21st century?