Lifelong learning is the expectation that individuals are personally responsible for continued up-skilling as they compete in the globalized gig economy. Precarious employment means companies no longer take responsibility for training workers. Rather workers are expected to self-finance acquisition of new skills, primarily via online credentialing programs.

Algorithms screen e-portfolios of badges to identify candidates with an optimal mindset, skill set and salary history. As automation increases many who invest in “lifelong learning” opportunities will not attain stable employment and be burdened by insurmountable debt. Public education is being reinvented as a platform to feed workers into this system, creating a compliant, malleable pool of human capital whose knowledge base is restricted to that which corporate and finance interests deem to have immediate and tangible economic value.