Future of work

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As we celebrated Youth Day this past weekend, we reflected on this country’s traumatic past, while imagining thriving communities for its youth. There are many programmes and projects needed to unlock young people’s potential, and there’s little doubt that much is happening in this space. For youth development programmes to be successful and for educational initiatives to have greater impact, the future of work and preparing children for this rapidly changing landscape should be a critical discussion point.
Futurists say that new jobs and titles are being created. Ten years ago, “social media manager”, and “mobile app developer” were pie in the sky and “gig” worker sounded like a musical term. (When someone works gigs, they don’t have a job title, but earn money from whatever arises, like electrical work or dog walking.) The gig worker trend illustrates that having a skills set is more important than being narrowly trained in a job that may not even exist in a few years. In fact, the World Economic Forum projects that 65% of today’s children will end up in careers that don’t yet exist. Consider that surgery may be conducted by a robot using 5G technology! Could one imagine that skyscrapers could be built with a high-tech 3D printer?
But, our education system is lagging behind in implementing policies that cater for the future world of work. Education specialist Sir Ken Robinson noted in his famous TED Talk (2006) that our schooling system is woefully ill-prepared for this future. Traditional schooling, he said, was designed during the industrial revolution, and this emphasis… “is eroding the talents and abilities students need to face the future.” Education for this system became obsessed with two aspects of education – maths and languages, discounting the many different types of intelligences. Robinson posits that the education system must shift to a student-centred, adaptable and practical model of learning.
Robinson and other educationists speak about the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” – where the physical, digital and biological worlds fuse. In previous industrial eras, mass production arose, animals were no longer as needed and the digital world exploded. Now, in this fourth wave, more people will be connected than ever, and, it’s possible that the environmental damage from previous revolutions could be reversed. This is the best possible outcome, but there are those who fear the worst: fragmented societies, selfish technology and security concerns. Klaus Schwab, chairperson of the World Economic Forum, says: “Today’s transition to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, combined with a crisis of governance, creates an urgent need for the world’s educators and employers to fundamentally rethink human capital through dialogue and partnerships. The adaptation of educational institutions, labour market policy and workplaces are crucial to growth, equality and social stability.”
Cotlands, as an expert in the space of early childhood development, is preparing young minds for the future through play-based technology and responsive teaching and learning. This creates ‘learnability’, meaning that the child has the desire and ability to grow and adapt. The first years are crucial and is responding to the future world of work from the ground up.