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The Cognitive Limits of Lifelong Learning

To succeed in today’s fast-changing labor market, workers are expected to be agile lifelong learners, comfortable with continuous adaptation, and willing to move across industries. But addressing skills obsolescence requires overcoming high psychological and intellectual barriers.

MILAN – 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.

In today’s fast-changing labor market, the most in-demand occupations– such as data scientists, app developers, or cloud computing specialists – did not even exist five or ten years ago. It is estimated that 65% of children entering primary school today will end up in jobs that do not yet exist.

Succeeding in such a labor market requires workers to be agile lifelong learners, comfortable with continuous adaptation and willing to move across industries. If one profession becomes obsolete – a change that can happen virtually overnight – workers need to be able to shift nimbly into another.

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