Can the metaverse help future work readiness – by Impact BBDO’s Fouad Mansour

 Impact BBDO's COO Fouad Mansour

by Impact BBDO’s COO, Fouad Mansour

Upskilling the world’s population has been placed high on the global agenda as digital transformation reshapes the employment landscape, but is it also time for education and corporate industry to get with the programme?

A few years ago, PwC imagined four radically different scenarios for how companies will manage people, and how people will manage their work and careers. 

The firm’s four extreme (by their own admission) alternative worlds of work were all named after different colours. On one end of the spectrum the “red world” would see us move away from big companies as new technology allows small businesses to gain more strength. While on the other hand, the “yellow world” companies were envisioned working together for the betterment of society. 

Now why do I bring this up, and why is it important? Well, because at Davos 2022, global upskilling was one of the main topics of conversation. So much so that the World Economic Forum launched its new SkillSET project, supported by many of the world’s top technology providers, targeting a million workers over the next three years. Its mission – “future-proof” essential skill sets that will enable people access to digital-orientated jobs. 

Top jobs of the not-so-distant future

According to IT and consulting firm Cognizant, these jobs have names we probably haven’t even dreamed of. Does anyone know what a ‘virtual store sherpa’ or a ‘personal data broker’ is? Or how about a ‘personal memory curator’ or an ‘augmented reality journey builder’? 

Yes, well, apparently those are but a few of the top jobs of the future – and by future, I mean 2030; only eight years from now. My son is 10 years old, and so when he graduates from university and is about to enter the workforce, becoming a ‘memory augmentation surgeon’ or a ‘body part maker’ may be a real option for him. 

Yet today, I get to watch him, and his sister, live through their various devices, partly for school and then for entertainment. Left unsupervised, they can spend countless hours on them, and in some instances even simultaneously function across multiple screens while gaming, or virtually hanging out with friends. 

Are we ready for a transformed landscape?

With the advent of the metaverse, and the immersive technologies i.e. augmented, virtual and extended reality (AR, VR & XR) already within their reach, I had to ask myself where are we going with all this? 

Which got me thinking, is the current education system, in which we find our children, and the corporate world we function in, really preparing us and generations to come for jobs of the future – eight years from now? 

And how can the technology, we’re all becoming increasingly obsessed with, be put to good use, to ensure we are all skilled and ready to face a transformed employment landscape? 

Getting with the program 

According to co-founder and chief content officer of Tailspin, Stephen Fromkin, an immersive learning platform; interactions in the metaverse give us the impression we are having real experiences and creating real memories – because we are. 

So I ask myself: can this be put to good use when it comes to educating our children and upskilling the current workforce? Apparently, the answer is yes. According to Fromkin immersive experiences possess an ability to make digital interactions feel more human – with VR learning taking it a step further. 

And there have been some interesting results; one PwC study found that learners trained with VR were up to 275 per cent more confident to act on what they learned after training – a 40 per cent improvement over in-person classroom learning and a 35 per cent improvement over eLearning. 

Now although those are interesting results, the real question is, when will the education sector, and corporate industry, really and truly catch up? And more importantly when will business leaders come to truly realize that the onus is partially on them to encourage and facilitate learning and upskilling through appropriate retraining of the existing workforce – regardless of industry. Because no matter the age, rank, or trade, it is becoming increasingly evident that like it or not, we all need to figuratively get with the web3 program.