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work+learn paths for future-ready learners

Are we skilled for the future ?


Spectrums of Skill

Five Ways to Build Future-Ready Learners​

Make Yourself Known

with the art and science of reputation management

Befriend the Machines

to master human-machine collaboration

Build Your Crew

in the many worlds of peer production

Make Sense

of loopy complex systems

Keep It Going

by building resilience in extreme environments


work+learn paths for future-ready learners

Over the next decade, a new generation will enter the workforce. This is a generation that has been shaped by lifelong mobile connectivity, large-scale institutional shifts, widespread refugee migration, and first-hand experience of climate instability. It is also a generation that is coming of age in a global economy of mostly borderless markets, of global reputation platforms, and in many locations, nearly unbridled optimism for the future. 


In the summer of 2018, Institute for the Future, with support from the MiSK Foundation, interviewed 60 members of this generation, aged 16 to 30, in six cities around the world: Austin, Berlin, Chongqing, Jeddah, Lagos, and Mexico City. We met with them in their homes, co-working spaces, maker spaces, their offices, bookstores, and cafés to explore their work+learn paths: the strategies they are using to work and learn their way into the futures they aspire to. To amplify our one-on-one experiences, we conducted workshops with them as well as other local business and regional leaders to explore the local future skills landscape and the learning ecosystems that will help young people build those skills. This report is a summary of this Global Future Skills project.

Global cities
One-to-one interviews

In short, today’s young people—today’s lead learners—are laying the tracks for tomorrow’s work+learn paths. They are building futures for themselves that promise just the right amount of economic security within lives that allow them to achieve other life goals ranging from community building to artistic expression. The lens on their lives is perhaps wider than recent generations: they simply see so much more to be done in their lifetimes, so many more possible work+learn paths.

Austin is a city of innovation. The public school system is undertaking a number of educational experiments, alongside a large network of private and alternative institutions for preschool through 12th grade. It is digital leader, with more internet usage than any other city in Texas, and more bloggers than any other U.S. metropolitan area. It also has a robust and rapidly growing music and film scene.

Work+Learn Paths in Austin

Social Justice Through Systems Thinking:

cultivate a systems view to address complex social issues

Making My Way:

creatively cultivating authentic identities and communities


cooperating to build collective well-being

The Other Intelligences:

pursuing non-analytical knowledge

Berlin is a long-standing world center of world culture, politics, media and science. With a full complement of high-tech industries, on one hand, and a diversity of creative industries, on the other, it is an undisputed center forf innovation in the socalled knowledge economy. Its four major universities attract as many as 175,000 students per term, 18% of whom have international backgrounds.

Work+Learn Paths in Berlin

The Project Economy:

working together in a world without jobs

Scenes and Spaces:

programming shared experiences

Deep Tolerance:

integrating diverse perspectives in working, learning, and living

The Human Project:

curating multi-persona lives in a multicultural environment

Chongqing’s rapid growth and it global status as an entrepreneurial manufacturing hub is driving a new startup culture with a frontier feel in the city. (In fact, the city is the beneficiary of China’s “Go West” policies.) Less influenced by Western media than other large Chinese cities, all citizens must attend the so-called “nine-year compulsory education” that is funded by the state.

Work+Learn Paths in Chongqing

The Iron Bowl:

investing in the lifelong job

Learning on the Side:

enriching life with digital resources

Hustling to Survive:

making the most of the informal path

The Robot Future:

putting AI to work

Jeddah’s motto is Jeddah Ghair, an Arabic phrase that translates to “Jeddah is different.” As both a port region and a gateway to Mecca, the region has been influenced by multi-ethnic citizenry. Today, Jeddah, KAEC and Yanbu are attracting significant government investment and internal migration, particularly young people. More than half of the country’s population is under 30, providing a strong optic on youth skills. Education is free at all levels.

Work+Learn Paths in Jeddah

The Transnational Experience:

learning abroad to reinvent the culture at home

The Purpose-Built Exile:

relocating to reinvent self and country

Future Challenges:

understanding the human experience

Paying It Forward:

learning for the sake of those who follow

Metropolitan Lagos is a fast-paced, business-oriented community that is rapidly becoming a global city, home to financial institutions and global corporations. With a wide spectrum of wealth distribution, the city mixes some of the most expensive real estate in the world with poor settlements lacking basic amenities. A major push to upgrade education and offer nine years of schooling to everyone has not eliminated the large population of out-of-school children who work as hawkers in the city streets.

Work+Learn Paths in Lagos

Hackable Opportunities:

finding the business angle

The WhatsApp Path:

working the platform to learn and earn

Big Ambitions:

simulating personal futures to make them real

The Dissident Arts:

expressing oneself in a world with no future

At 800 years old, Mexico City is working to balance its long heritage with a new culture of innovation. Granted selfautonomy just 20 years ago, it is the largest city in the Western hemisphere. Not surprisingly, given its scale and density, the city is experimenting actively with new environmental regulations that color the awareness of its citizenry. A creative center for the arts, artistic expression is a well-revered occupation with a long history.

Work+Learn Paths in Mexico

The Collective Advantage

seeking solutions together

Zero Waste:

building the cultural remix

The Competitive Machine:

learning to the contest


doing the work of inner futures

Download the full report now

Read our “GLOBAL FUTURE SKILLS” report – you can download it below.

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