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The Future of Work: Preparing for Disruption

Online Learning Campus - World Bank Group via edX


Workers of the future will need new sets of skills to compete. Recent advances in technology are changing how we live, communicate and do business, disrupting traditional industries and redefining the employee-employer relationship.

Thousands of routine and low-skill jobs will be eliminated by automation, A.I. and digital hyper-connectivity. However, these same advances present new opportunities, like:

  • New job creation
  • Increased productivity
  • Improved delivery of public services

This course emphasizes the urgency of developing human capital in meeting the challenges of the coming decades. Developing countries will need to take rapid action to invest in their people as innovation continues to accelerate. Themes in the course include: artificial intelligence, the gig economy, world of work, the future of work, labor market, policy makers, new technologies, digital economy, jobs of the future, machine learning, and labor force.

Skills-based example:

Participants will learn through Ted-like talks, podcasts, readings, interactive quizzes and scenario based exercises. They will also have an opportunity to share and dialogue with peers and experts including practitioners, government officials, academic and private sector. This course will introduce students to forward-thinking approaches that will build the new skill sets required in the 21st Century, including:

  • critical analysis
  • problem solving
  • “soft skills” like teamwork and empathy


Week 1 - Changing Nature of Work
This module focuses on understanding the factors at play in the changing nature of work. It introduces participants to new technologies that are transforming day-to-day life, new types of automation, and new types of businesses, including firms that operate through digital platforms that enable them to scale rapidly without vertically integrating. It will show how the demand for low-skilled labor is decreasing as Artificial Intelligence and new production methods take root. Learners will be able to describe and discuss the main issues and challenges that workers of today face.

Week 2 – Human Capital: A New Framework
This module introduces the World Bank’s new human capital index, highlighting the links between investments in health and education and the productivity of future workers. Making the most of this evolving economic opportunity will depend on prioritizing the development of individual capacity. This module emphasizes the importance of building skills that are increasingly important in labor markets while also exploring the dangers of leaving workers in informal sectors.

Week 3 – Lifelong Learning: From Birth to Retirement
This module highlights the fact that despite historically low poverty rates and growing life expectancies, the dangers that remain, especially to children under 5, pose a significant risk to development. Poor health care and nutrition at this critical stage of child development, especially during the “first 1000 days” from conception, lead to decreased cognitive function that last into adulthood. Subpar primary schools often don’t ensure basic literacy. Youth employment programs fail to effectively prepare young people transitioning into the workforce. This module explores programs from pre-natal care to youth employment.

Week 4 – Returns to Work & Social Protection
Skills development does not end in school. Module 4 is examines those new required skills that will necessitate a lifelong approach to learning for today’s workers. Innovative pedagogy, technology platforms and linkages between industry and schools are enabling developing countries to train huge numbers of workers, including older ones, in new capabilities. The module also demonstrates how productivity gains can be made by advancing three priority areas: decreasing informality in the economy, removing blockages to women in the workplace and enhancing training for Agricultural workers. This module looks in-depth at social programs that address these ends.

Week 5 – Investing in Social Inclusion
This final module focuses on the new social contracts required to provide for larger investments in human capital and more universal social protection programs. It discusses several new ways of protecting people, including: a societal minimum that provides support independent of employment; expanding overall coverage that prioritizes the neediest people in society; placing community health workers on the government’s payroll; a universal basic income; enhanced social assistance and insurance systems that reduce the burden of risk management on labor regulation. The module ends by illustrating methods for financing such programs.

Taught by

Federica Saliola, Aart Kraay, Truman G. Packard, Shwetlena Sabarwal, Shu Yu, Ugo Gentilini, Nagaraja Rao Harshadeep, Sheila Jagannathan and Brendan McNulty


4.7 rating, based on 236 Class Central reviews

4.9 rating at edX based on 7 ratings

Start your review of The Future of Work: Preparing for Disruption

  • Anonymous
    The future of Work, gave a clear overview of how prepared and how we can prepare for the future of work in our country of residence, and even in that organization we work now, how best have we transited from the transient technological view point to…
  • Anonymous
    It is worth to undertake the course «Future of Work: Preparing for Disruption» in order to anticipate in future of artificial intelligence age where intelligent machines will replace Human works even in no repetitive tasks. Subsequently, the artific…
  • Anonymous
    Although I did complete the course, I dont think I was eligible to get a certificate for I could not submit my assignments. That said, I am not sure if there are others in the cohort who found it a bit hard on them to complete those assignments. I…
  • Anonymous
    The questionnaires were so easy I completed the entire course in less than 48 hours. I got a 91% final score and I only lost points because someone else decided to only give me 21/30 on my final assignment where I made a composition of pictures. All other questions and assignments were 100% correct.

    The completion of the course seemed to be worthless to future employers and was nothing more than a waste of time. It did not help my career in any way, nor to find a new job.
  • Anonymous
    I found the course fascinating to me because of its structure, study materials and videos, and a well-organized presentation. Since the future of the work is a prime concern for all of us, the course is able to provide an overview of this direction. I think another advanced level course is helpful to further the knowledge, skills, and research in this area.
    - Khem Raj Sedhai, Maxwell School, Syracuse University
  • Anonymous
    This mooc allowed me to understand the importance of the concept of human capital in a professional world in perpetual evolution. Among other things, I learned that our leaders and all of society must review their development policies while integrating the index factor of human capital, an essential element in the implementation of harmonious development policies and programs of countries.
  • Anonymous
    There are many questions in the job market about future jobs due to automation, technology change etc. Therefore , this course gives the answer of every question which are in the mind of employees as well as employers.
    I liked and enjoyed this course which is about future of work.
  • Anonymous
    It gives a nice insight about how to think of the future of work and what can countries do to be able to catch up. I really enjoyed the videos chosen, they are straight to the point and super memorable.
  • Anonymous
    The course offers incredible and updated material that helps as input if your scope of practice/ area of interest is in tertiary education and lifelong learning in public or private fields.
    The course ended up being more time consuming than I anticipated. However, it was time well invested.
  • Mbewe
    The course is so practical as it cut across different sectors of the economy. These courses should be extended to people in decisions making so that they should understand the benefits of àdvances technology to boost the economy while enhancing social protection and labour regulations.
  • Anonymous
    This is a course that introduces you to human capital concept and provides data on human capital across the globe. By the time you finish the course, you would have become abreast with human capital issues not only about your country but the whole world at large.
  • Anonymous
    Well organized with easy to understand and follow videos.

    Presenters had great skills, and knowledge in their fields. I appreciated the realization of how the job market is changing and how we should take the advantage of growing technologies.
  • Anonymous
    The course was very interesting and enlightening. This is a matter not only for the near future, but it’s also beginning to modified the way we work and think business and societies at the present moment.
    Alicia Penayo
  • Anonymous
    It was really revealing and involving. A unique experience and a rare opportunity that puts to use in every accessible means the innovations of the our modern world in dispensing relevant knowledge.
  • Anonymous
    This course was quite informative that I learned a lot of it regarding the future of work and what we should be developing to compete in the future.
  • Anonymous
    The future of work has helped me to realize in a short period of time the effects of technological advancement. As a result, I am better equipped to face the uncertainty of the future
  • Anonymous
    I really enjoyed the course, it was well structured and easy to follow. Plenty of reading material. It opens the field for future in depth research for interested students.
  • Anonymous
    I couldn't complete the entire module, due to time constraints but it is very beneficial, great up to date info. I would certainly recommend it! Dr. O.Visi
  • Anonymous
    In a changing world, where the technological and economic progress of some countries is lagging behind, it is necessary to ensure that the development strategies already implemented are strengthened so that the most vulnerable populations can be tak…
  • Anonymous
    This course were really interesting and I can say highly strategic for me. My own believe is that course was developed very well with an effective approach and a high quality of communication and organization. I would like to say that the manner whi…

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