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To thrive in tomorrow’s economy, workers need to boost lifelong cognitive abilities

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The Cog­ni­tive Lim­its of Life­long Learn­ing (Project Syn­di­cate):

As new tech­nolo­gies con­tin­ue to upend indus­tries and take over tasks once per­formed by humans, work­ers world­wide fear for their futures. But what will real­ly pre­vent humans from com­pet­ing effec­tive­ly in the labor mar­ket is not the robots them­selves, but rather our own minds, with all their psy­cho­log­i­cal bias­es and cog­ni­tive lim­i­ta­tions

Life­long learn­ing is sup­posed to pro­vide the intel­lec­tu­al flex­i­bil­i­ty and pro­fes­sion­al adapt­abil­i­ty need­ed to seize oppor­tu­ni­ties in new and dynam­ic sec­tors as they emerge, as well as the resilience to han­dle shocks in declin­ing indus­tries … trade unions and busi­ness asso­ci­a­tions should estab­lish for­mal men­tor­ing pro­grams to advise work­ers on how to progress in their careers or in a tran­si­tion to a new sec­tor. Employ­ers, for their part, should estab­lish for­mal feed­back process­es, not just to eval­u­ate the per­for­mance of their employ­ees, but also to assess what skills need to be updat­ed or can real­is­ti­cal­ly be acquired.

In addi­tion, com­pa­nies should be grant­ed gen­er­ous tax incen­tives to boost invest­ment in train­ing pro­grams. Reflect­ing the real­i­ty of adults’ cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties, such pro­grams should aim to trans­fer new knowl­edge grad­u­al­ly, while lever­ag­ing crys­tal­ized intel­lec­tu­al skills. More expe­ri­enced work­ers might be less prone to learn­ing alto­geth­er new skills than their younger col­leagues, but they may excel in oth­er valu­able areas, such as prob­lem-solv­ing, self-man­age­ment, and self-moti­va­tion.

As we devel­op robots with increas­ing­ly human-like capa­bil­i­ties, we should take a clos­er look at our own. Only by learn­ing to over­come – or at least evade – our cog­ni­tive lim­i­ta­tions can we have long and fruit­ful careers in the new glob­al econ­o­my.”

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Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Education & Lifelong Learning, Peak Performance, Professional Development

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