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Tomorrow’s jobs

Here’s a headline-grabbing figure: Sixty-five-per-cent of today’s primary school children will work in jobs that do not currently exist, according to a US Department of Labor report. The careers of Generation Z will be far more focussed on technology than that of the current workforce, a trend that is already evident. 

Many of today’s hottest jobs - apps developer, data miner, cloud technologist, social-media manager and user-experience designer - were unheard of a decade or so ago. Looking ahead, we will likely see demand for digital architects, avatar designers, 3D printing engineers, content curators and cyber-security officers. 

How do you prepare today’s students for these jobs of tomorrow? In short, you need to give education systems a digital-age upgrade. I believe that students still need to be taught the three Rs - Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic. Additionally, children must also learn programming and coding as part of the core curriculum to ensure that they are digitally literate for their future workplaces. 

It is a real challenge to prepare students for jobs that have not been created, technologies that have not been invented and problems that have not yet arisen. But this is the education imperative in the 21st century where new industries and occupations will continue to emerge and old industries and jobs will decline. 

No one really knows whether automation will create as many jobs as it renders obsolete. What is clear is that preparing students for jobs of the past is a recipe for disaster. It is imperative that kids become learners for life and have the ability to embrace and adapt to rapid changes in a world where people will increasingly live and work online.

In the future, it may well be common place to walk into a restaurant and order your meal using a tablet computer. Similarly, you may be able to have your online shopping delivered to your home in a self-driving truck. If these scenarios become reality, what does the future hold for waiters and truck drivers? Will low skilled workers be more quickly displaced than others? 

Jobs growth is predicted in aged care, the environment and technology. Not every high school or university graduate, therefore, needs to be a technology geek. But given the predicted rise in “knowledge workers”, today’s students need to be taught skills in problem solving, teamwork, creativity and innovative thinking. 

Recently, the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) released a report warning that young people will be the hardest hit under a new future of work. The report states that “…60% of Australian students are currently studying or training for occupations where at least two-thirds of jobs will be automated over the coming decades.”

It goes on to say that “…we need to provide our young people with a different set of skills - to allow them to navigate their way through a diverse employment journey that will include around five career changes and an average of 17 different jobs”. The FYA believes our national curriculum is stuck in the past with teaching in digital skills not commencing until Year 9 despite international evidence that it should start earlier. 

It is clear that our information based economy is craving more intellectual property which requires a new kind of learning environment. The challenge facing educators is to develop curriculum which equips students with the knowledge and skills required to lead successful and fulfilling lives in the 21st century. 

When I started school in 1962, I sat at a desk with an inkwell and listened to a teacher whose main pedagogical aids were a stick of chalk and a blackboard. Classrooms were designed for lecture and crowd control, with the teacher as the central figure of knowledge and authority. Students took notes in lesson books which were used for later revision. 

The classrooms of tomorrow will be high-tech environments configured around student-centred learning hubs. They will feature 3D printers, tablet computers and even robotic teachers. Students will have digital tools such as laptops and smartphones. Subject matter experts will deliver lectures via holographic images while interactive videos will help students with homework.

We are on the cusp of a brave new world of learning! 



Paul J. Thomas, CEO

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Posted Monday, November 30, 2015    View Comments 1 Comments    Make a Comment Make a comment  

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