#Belgut – the unconditional learning credit

A contribution by Angelica Laurençon & Anja C. Wagner

New Work is the new, contemporary cultural technique, which, like the introduction of the computer, should be state-of-the-art today, precisely because it is more successful. -Sven Franke (EYEHEIGHTworks)

The central question, however, is …

How do we get there?

Today, the whole world is talking about Work 4.0, New Work and the future of work. But hardly anyone seems to seriously and consistently draw the conclusions from this for themselves.


The numbers speak for themselves …

  • Population in D between 15-65 years”: 53.9 million.
  • Of which 50+ years old: 16.1 million.
  • Of which employed: 11.1 million

How do they educate themselves digitally?
(according to Digital Index)

  • Through friends, acquaintances, colleagues: 62%
  • About the family: 55%
  • Employer-funded continuing education: 48
  • Free Internet offers: 27%
  • Self-funded continuing education: 17
  • Do not continue your education”: 4%Howdo you acquire new knowledge in the field of computer applications and the Internet?

However: Knowledge transfer today is too little

It takes active, collaborative work in networks to find innovative, transformative ways to address the problems of our time. And hardly anyone brings this collaborative self-learning competence with them.

So what to do?

Our recommendation: The unconditional learning credit

The basic principle of the #BELGUT

Each person is given a certain budget to further their education according to their interests and inclinations. How, where and what, the person decides for himself! Unconditionally!

But they never learned that, do you think?!

The facts: New competencies required

The race with the more intelligent machines is programmed. They automate everything that can be automated. One in two jobs is affected. Robots, learning machines and software perform many routine tasks more efficiently. With a chronic demographic deficit, this is good news for German companies in the long term. As a result, they need fewer human resources.

At the same time, the demand for highly qualified specialists is increasing everywhere where the economy can make a profit from new technologies.

The new quality jobs are emerging in the creative economy and Industry 4.0. In addition to STEM knowledge and digital know-how, there is a sudden demand for skills that are not yet offered anywhere in a compact form, but which will be needed for jobs in 2020.

The need for timely educational services is enormous, and massive immigration further complicates it with intercultural and language skills. But who today has educational opportunities for jobs that don’t even exist yet? Which education provider can provide fast-track offerings, mass customized with optimal ROI and ROE for all stakeholders?

The solution: Trust the crowd

The community proactively supports the lifelong learner in a systemic educational emergency just as it supports small businesses or large banks.

An unconditional learning credit helps anyone who wants to continue learning professionally, either throughout their life or on a selective basis, and is willing to organize this lifelong learning on their own responsibility.

This investment in the future costs every learner a lot of time, energy, perseverance and conviction.

Unconditional means that anyone who wants to learn is free to choose in-house training, online courses, social learning or self-organized learning on the Internet. He is solely responsible for his professional resume. That’s why, like any small business owner, freelancer or businessman, he must always remain vigilant.

An unconditional learning credit for all working people is no longer tied to any official carrier. It “frees” lifelong learners from the arbitrariness of decision-makers at the local job center, de-limits learning opportunities geographically, temporally, and in terms of content.

It responds to the growing need for highly qualified employees among SMEs that want to remain competitive in the third (or fourth) industrial revolution. Despite the acute shortage of skilled workers, SMEs are reluctant to invest in training programs whose content they cannot oversee and whose costs they cannot bear in terms of time and money.

SMEs are having to deal more and more with the acute shortage of skilled workers and the training opportunities that are not precisely tailored to their needs. That’s why this unconditional individual learning credit is the timely and prompt solution for many SMEs.

Why 50+ in particular should get active?

The consequence: SMEs must be able to catch up

Revolutions always fail at the grassroots level. SMEs, the backbone of the German economy, are not managing to implement the technological quantum leap in real time. This is not due to the bumpy introduction of Work 4.0 in companies, but to the lack of Education 4.0.

Many SMEs have two problems at the same time:

  1. The lack of an overview of the interrelationships of the digital revolution thrusts (Web 2.0, semantic web, multi sided platforms) makes it difficult to understand cyber-physical systems, Big Data platforms, cloud computing and learning machines. This is not enough for holistic design thinking.
  2. The increasing pressure to innovate constantly demands new knowledge and competencies, highly qualified employees and an in-house knowledge build-up in real time. For SMEs, these are additional challenges.

Thus, the highly ambitious Industry 4.0 is stuck on the runway to global flight in the lowlands of the chronic education shortage. The large German corporations are solving it through decentralized talent pools, FabLabs in many places around the world, and the global brain drain. You can choose and afford the best people there. However, SMEs do not bring together the necessary skills locally to quickly and smartly exploit the new cutting-edge technologies in their operations.

Inadequate Recruiting 4.0, patchy networking in components and competence clusters, low use of workforce marketing are just a few additional explanations for the chronic shortage of skilled workers. The digital (self-inflicted) backlog of SMEs and the general lack of education are the secret afflictions of Industry 4.0.

At the same time, the automation of all routine work has already freed up thousands of workers in all areas of production and services, who – whether they are computer scientists, lawyers or clerks – must quickly and specifically retrain themselves. Seen in this light, Education 4.0 – continuous learning in the digital transformation – is actually the prerequisite for Work 4.0.

The Education 4.0: Fostering Collective Intelligence

Tomorrow’s jobs are created by today’s networked knowledge and in the minds of people who also think networked, alone and with others.

This requires Education 4.0 – and it will come across as the creative destruction of the existing.

Their driving forces will be:

  • the simultaneity and ubiquity of knowledge transfer and construction
  • the complex and volatile competency grids in the labor market, which still determines the value of an apprenticeship
  • A whole new binary appreciation of education that everyone defines for themselves

The creative destruction of the existing is the prerequisite for innovation in industry and the world of work. In the education sector, however, it becomes a political issue.

Who in this country wants to deal with Education 4.0 and its creative destruction of the old structures?

Bureaucrats, technocrats, educators and politicians? There is also a lack of time for lengthy reforms. The state spends 10.9 billion on education per year. No one questions whether these are well invested. Otherwise, there would not be 7.5 million illiterates in Germany, no acute shortage of skilled workers, nor so many “bullshit jobs” from which only the trainers profit and which are ruinous for the national economy.

Instead of working out new grids and frameworks that will be long out of date by the time the topping-out ceremony is held, it would thus make more sense to bring Education 4.0 down to the lowest denominator, namely the self-organized learning of the individual in the new micro-units of the global learning environment. It is easier to involve him directly and with immediate effect in one’s own educational process and to motivate him to think holistically than to tinker with complex structures.

An unconditional learning credit for all those willing to learn provides everyone with the freedom, lifelong and unconditionally, and in addition the freedom to organize the personal life-learn-work balance themselves. In them, each learning volunteer can arrange their own learning times alongside their work, on their own, in social learning or learning by doing.

TAKE ACTION: Let’s get started

The state grants a lifetime education loan to the adult wage earner, and in doing so, pulls him or her into the bargain. Trust versus freedom. Everyone is responsible for his/her future and will have to organize his/her working life in an entrepreneurial way.

Permissive capitalism writes the rules today. They are called TTIP and CETA and turn the employee into a contract worker. Pure neoliberalism prevails.

“This is not my world,” Mr. Mustermann speaks. Maybe. But it is the VUCA world of work in the 21st century. As unpleasant and unfamiliar as it may seem.

What we are trying to do here is offer a glimmer of light to the many little ones. Because with a lot of personal commitment (and the unconditional basic income), the workers of tomorrow may still be able to retain a small amount of freedom and dignity to help determine their work-life balance in the fast cycles of the 21st century labor market and keep stress, frustration and burnout elements to a minimum.

According to this concept, everyone who wants to continue their education receives the unconditional learning credit. Let’s say the state covers 95% of the cost if learners show how they invest the money. This is not control, but transparency 2.0.

One click is all it takes – for the employer or client, the clerk at the tax office, colleagues or customers. In the professional portfolio of social business networks, anyone can create their timeline as an active learner and worker. This is part of transparency 2.0. LinkedIn, XING, Google and Facebook have already created the frameworks for certification 2.0. More to follow.

Ignorance does not protect against punishment is a principle from Roman law. In the network society, whose rules are shaped almost exclusively by the American pioneering spirit and the Protestant ethic of capitalism, it becomes an informal criterion for the selection of knowledge workers.

The unconditional learning credit is not a guarantee for the individual of a secure and well-paid job with permanent employment, but just a little more solidarity on the part of the state in the brave new world of work. This is not a solution to all problems. But maybe a start. Further work needs to be done on the other framework conditions.

Let’s go: What you can already do today

STEP 1: Slowly grow into our work …

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STEP 3: Join the conversation!

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