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23 septiembre, 2019

Changemaker Abilities for the Future of Employment

Kenny Clewett

Director of Hello Europe and Strategic Development at Ashoka Spain

The world of employment is rapidly changing, which brings with it a series of complex challenges for employees and for the companies which take them on.[1] Based on previous studies, this paper proposes that the root of the challenges of employment is in the training in the so-called skilling challenges or changemaker and outlines the ecosystem which must be built to resolve it. This system emphasizes the central position which innovating entities can and must play in job insertion and the social entrepreneurs to guide the other interest groups towards a permanent transformation.

With regard to the future of employment, one of the main priorities is to train employees in skills and abilities so that they can to adapt to new jobs. Taking into account that in the next 10 or 20 years, 65% of work activities carried out by humans will be automated, and between 75 and 275 million workers will have to change occupational activity during this period, the challenge is enormous.[2]

The challenge is often summarized as the need for training employees in new technologies or skills for their new jobs; this technical training is only realistically a short-term solution. New and frequent waves of technological and organisational disruption will make this kind of training a constant necessity.

The most important challenge for companies (and communities and countries) that they wish to overcome necessarily happens by training children, young people and employees in changemaker skills

More important than the training in technical skills are the so-called 鈥渟killing challenges鈥. These are skills which train the employee to become adapted, be independent, carry out leadership and have an enterprising mindset.[3] These coincide with the changemaker abilities of Ashoka: cognitive empathy, teamwork, leadership and creativity. In a world which is constantly changing, each person in the job market urgently needs these skills. They do not only need these for self-satisfaction and motivation to be active citizens and promoters of change in their society. In all industries, the skilling challenges are, by far, those which offer greater long-term value for employability. Once armed with these, technologies and adaptations of types of job are plain sailing for the worker. When one has learned to manage change, to identify and set challenges for their own career and learning, and how to promote changes in their organisations and the society, it is easier to adapt to new roles and significantly contribute to the company.

Therefore, the most important challenge for companies (and communities and countries) that they wish to overcome necessarily happens by training children, young people and employees in changemaker skills. We believe that it is, in some way, the influence that will set off the systemic transformation of employment.

However, resolving the question of training in changemaker skills cannot only be a responsibility of the companies or educational entities. It requires a collaborative effort among all entities involved. This can be referred to as an ecosystem for change: the intentional organisation of the entities involved, each one exercising its role, coordinated towards the same objective of social change. From Ashoka we have seen in recent years an increase in the organisation of this type of ecosystems, always led by social entrepreneurs[4] who understand the systemic change and provide functional models and inspiration for the group.[5] This is the type of change that we suggest is needed so that training in changemaker skills form part of future employment.


In this ecosystem, each interest group must take on new responsibilities and start to change its way of acting. Next we will give a simple outline of these groups and some of the responsibilities that they must assume.

Firstly, for this ecosystem, the leadership from innovating entities in job insertion is inevitable and tremendously important. For these entities, these skilling challenges or changemakers are nothing new. It is not assumed that they will be learned, rather they have been intentionally taught for a long time. Although there are differences in how they are labelled or promoted (e.g. vital abilities, life skills, soft skills, etc.), there is no successful entity of job insertion that does not work on one or all of these skills in its programmes. Furthermore, working frequently with people who suffer from learning difficulties, with shortage of economic resources and unstable ways of life also tend to have developed creative teaching and learning methodologies, which are varied and very economical to transmit these skills effectively and using a surprising range of methods (formal, non-formal, informal, face-to-face, distance learning, in the workplace, etc.) The value that they bring to this potential ecosystem is vital, and it is important to recognise their leadership. It makes one think, for example, in the model of the workshop schools promoted by the Fellow of Ashoka Spain, Peridis, through Santa Mar铆a la Real and now Lanzaderas de Empleo, which create a link between people seeking work and a future job, teaching technical skills and challenges while they work in the profession that they wish to do.

Together with employment agencies, these entities are in the perfect place to become life-long advisers throughout the educational career and training of the individual. They play an important role when it comes to helping companies and other entities to offer continuous training to employees, in and out of the work environment. For example, the Fellow of Ashoka France, Fr茅d茅ric Bardeau, founder of Simplon, which helps companies to train its employees in skills of all kinds via full-time or part-time learning capsules of 6 months that they can do while they work, in order to continue their learning journey while they work.

Secondly, social entrepreneurs play a vital role, giving leadership and inspiration to the movement, developing models of attainable training and inspiring the other groups to adopt a mentality of change for the world to come.

Thirdly are the individuals who are promoters of change, or 鈥渃hangemakers鈥. These are people who have the confidence and ability to motivate themselves and others to promote positive changes in their organisation or society. They have already embraced the change to be students for life, used to constant change. Moreover, they will not only depend on their employers to provide them with the relevant skills, but they will look for outside opportunities to land. Reviving these skills in people requires work from a very young age, which is why Ashoka devotes considerable effort to identify changemaker schools which are promoting the skills to the very youngest.


The educational entities and associations that train employees also play a key role in the system. They have the chance to encourage students while giving them the skills they need for the future. Schools have an important responsibility to intentionally promote these skills in their central curriculum. Collaborations are also required with companies and employment agencies, and certificate programmes of these skills. For example, Jos茅 Mar铆a Luz谩rraga, Fellow of Ashoka, founded the MTA Academy where skills of intrapreneurship, teamwork, creativity and taking risks are encouraged by way of experiences of entrepreneurship to create businesses as a team.

Another key group in this ecosystem includes the legislative system and the public administrations, which must create new legal frameworks to promote this training and not leave out the most vulnerable. This can be done by way of tax incentives for companies and individuals who embark on learning journeys, and financing programmes which train in skill framework carried out by employment agencies, job insertion and educational entities.

Lastly is the role of the companies, which must collaborate with the other actors so that training in changemaker skills form a significant part of their offer to employees. They must create spaces and processes to allow their employees not only to develop technical skills, but also to discover skills and talents and to explore how to use them in their work and personal life. As well as training better employees, it will help to transform the company structure to be more adaptable, allow it to be reinvented and be flexible in change of processes. By creating learning environments and constant creativity, we believe that companies will find themselves contributing to other challenges, such as the creation of learning resources for children of employees, or schools.[6]

The challenge of training in changemaker skills will be one of the main challenges in the decades to come and it will not be solved itself. It is vital that in all these groups we start to work together on the solution as of today. By doing so in an organised way all together, we trust that it will not only be a sum of relevant pieces, but we will see how new collaborations and systems appear which we would have never imagined.

[1] This article is based on the results of a joint investigation by Ashoka and McKinsey & Co.: 鈥淭he skilling challenge: How to equip employees for the era of automation and digitization 鈥撀燼nd how models and mindsets of social entrepreneurs can guide us鈥, April 2018. Access:

[2] According to the latest reports by the McKinsey Global Institute, 鈥淔uture of Organizations and Work鈥 ( and聽

[3] 鈥淭he skilling challenge鈥, p. 8-9. Terminology of P21 Framework, OECD; European Commission; World Bank: team analysis.

[4] For more information on how we define a social entrepreneur, please see

[5] Two examples of intentional construction of ecosystems which Ashoka is working on in Spain are Hello Spain ( and the European project, which looks for a systemic change in migration, movement of refugees and cohabitation, and Changemaker Territories, a pilot scheme to construct an ecosystem around the coordinated change in education in the region of Valdejal贸n (Arag贸n) ( For another Spanish example, please see the proposal to create an ecosystem for social change in Canada:

[6] We recently saw an interesting example of this in a joint investigation by Ashoka and Ikea on changemaker skills applied to children鈥檚 play (

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