The recent ‘J-WEL Week’ at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, hosted by the Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (J-WEL), sought to address how education can be utilized to address significant global challenges, including socioeconomic inequality and economic development.

In one workshop, a ‘hackathon’ held by education leaders centered on the global skills gap: the growing chasm between the skills required by employers and those actually possessed by prospective employees – and the very real impact of not addressing this challenge now.

The global skills gap manifests in many ways, from a shortage of workers with specific technical skills, to a lack of candidates with the “soft skills” — what J-WEL refers to as “human skills” — employers are demanding, such as creativity and persistence. The root of the problem, however, is universal.

During the event, Bill Bonvillian, director of a research project on workforce education at MIT Open Learning, stated:

“Workers don’t know what skills they need, educators don’t know what skills to educate for, and employers don’t know what skills workers have.”

J-WEL, which was created three years ago in cooperation with Community Jameel, is organized into three distinct collaboratives – pK-12, Higher Education, and Workforce Learning. October’s hackathon, in which participants designed solutions to the school-work disconnect, took place on the Workforce Learning track.

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