Learning for Life: Solving the Solvable and Closing the Global Skills Gap

With technology and innovation rapidly changing the skills needed to succeed in the workforce, people around the world are understandably concerned about the future of work.

According to the World Economic Forum, 65 percent of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in new job types that don’t yet exist. Even today, one of every four workers admits to a skills mismatch in their current role. The World Bank also notes that 60 percent of global citizens are not even included in the digital economy! While these issues are complex, they are not insurmountable. They are problems that can be solved, and SAP is leading the way to solve them.

On October 10-11, an SAP delegation joined representatives from the public, private and social sectors at the invitation-only Global Engagement Forum: Live in Washington D.C. Hosted by PYXERA Global, the Forum embraces multi-sector partnership and collective action to find the answers to problems for which there are known and tested solutions, i.e. solvable problems, including closing the skills gap in STEM.

“No organization can solve closing the skills gap alone,” acknowledges Alexandra van der Ploeg, global head of SAP Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). “There is incredible power in partnership and collaboration. SAP is privileged to partner with organizations like PYXERA Global in our efforts to address digital inclusion around the world.”

Why is Closing the Skills Gap Important to SAP?

With more than 404,000 customers in 180 countries, SAP is connected to 77 percent of the world’s transaction revenue, 78 percent of the world’s food, and 58 percent of UN member governments. With such a major role in shaping the modern economy, few organizations are better positioned to help all people become — and stay — relevant in a digital world. “It is both a business imperative and a moral obligation for SAP to initiate people into the modern economy, no matter where they may live,” affirms van der Ploeg. To address this challenge head on, SAP implemented “Learning for Life,” an end-to-end education and workforce readiness approach.

Learning for Life

Learning for Life is a proactive initiative that includes programs and partnerships focused on education and workforce preparedness, to address issues like access to education and adoption and application of relevant skills. Through a connected pipeline of learning opportunities, SAP meets people wherever they are on their employment journey and seeks to propel them to decent, meaningful work.

For today’s workforce, the challenge is ensuring people have the skills needed to remain relevant tomorrow at a scale that will make a difference. To create engaging and continuous learning experiences for both current and future employees, SAP launched openSAP, a massive open online course (MOOC) platform. One of the first MOOC providers, openSAP has offered hundreds of free online courses, with more than 2.5 million enrollments, since 2013. Building on the openSAP success story, SAP CEO Bill McDermott also announced SAP’s support of SkillSET, a World Economic Forum reskilling initiative. This partnership was launched by a coalition of major IT companies including SAP, and aggregates training content on one platform to serve the greater good.

Equipping tomorrow’s workforce to succeed requires ongoing collaboration between many disparate groups. Breaking down the barriers between governments, educators, civil society, and businesses to build direct lines of communication and open feedback between sectors will be key. One way SAP leads the charge is through SAP University Alliances, a global network helping more than 3,500 educational institutions in over 113 countries integrate the latest SAP technologies into their educational efforts.

Ensuring access for all is the foundation to Learning for Life and cornerstone to SAP’s innovation strategy. This isn’t just a nice to have — it is a business imperative and a critical component toward socioeconomic stability. While inclusion efforts are embedded in the work the company does to support both today’s workforce and the workforce of the future, SAP CSR specifically works to create opportunities for all people through digital inclusion. In 2017, SAP CSR programs provided digital skills education to 1.4 million youth around the world.

SAP Learning for Life: Let’s get ready to grow together – for life

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A Call to Lead and Learn Together

Today’s workforce, tomorrow’s workforce, the under-served and underrepresented, those not yet included in the workforce: Everyone is impacted by technology and global innovation. To that end, SAP is taking Learning for Life to the next level and has partnered with PYXERA Global to create a new, multi-stakeholder partnership initiative called Corporate Champions for Education. This initiative invites companies of all sizes, across industries, to come together in support of a collective purpose, to meet future workforce needs and create opportunities for an inclusive, digital world.

Over the next two years, representatives from participating companies will form diverse teams to work on specific projects, using their professional skills, during four-week temporary assignments with nonprofit organizations in underserved markets. The beauty of such an approach is that participants benefit even as they serve their host organizations. Global pro bono programs are also proven approaches to develop global leadership skills and improve employee engagement. Through these experiences, it’s clear that building the capacity of local organizations is the best, most sustainable way to ensure that their clientele have the requisite competence and confidence to participate in global economy both today and in the future.

For more information on Learning for Life, please visit: www.sap.com/learningforlife and for more information on Corporate Champions for Education, please visit www.pyxeraglobal.org/corpchampion.


Jennifer Beason is head of Communications for Corporate Social Responsibility at SAP.


A portion of this article was originally published in The Human Factor.