It is important for educators to ensure their students become empowered to navigate what lies ahead, rather than just prepare them for those jobs that currently exist
BY JENNY COETZEE AND ANGELICA OUYA
If anyone doubted that the world of work was changing, the pandemic must surely have removed those doubts. Now is the time to ensure that schools are mindful and deliberate in developing those skills which will be in high demand and necessary for success in a reconstituted future.
Looking toward the future, schools which have not yet done so, must start focusing on more than academics, and ensure they develop students holistically in line with the projections of the World Economic Forum regarding those skills that will be highest in demand in coming years.
Companies are increasingly moving towards automation of a myriad of functions, which means that traditional career paths continue to fall by the wayside.
This means that new opportunities in new fields will be arising, but also that young people need to go the extra mile to ensure that they become and remain competitive in what is likely to be a shrinking job market. Ideally, they should be developing those transferable skills which will mean they become resilient and able to respond quickly to changes in the environment.
It is important for educators to ensure their students become empowered to navigate what lies ahead, rather than just prepare them for those jobs that currently exist. Young people must be taught the art of being able to navigate their environment intelligently, regardless of changes in the market.
Looking ahead, the World Economic Forum (WEF) future of jobs survey shows that companies are expecting to re-structure their workforce in response to new technologies and, in particular, the companies surveyed indicated that they were also looking to transform the composition of their value chain to introduce further automation, reduce the current workforce, or expand their workforce as a result of deeper technological integration, and make greater use of contractors.
The WEF survey also projected that more and more companies are likely to adopt a number of technologies in coming years, including cloud computing, big data and e-commerce solutions, and so forth, which represent a continuation of the trends of recent years.
There is now also a significant rise in interest in encryption, reflecting the new vulnerabilities of our digital age, and a significant increase in the number of firms expecting to adopt non-humanoid robots and artificial intelligence, with both technologies slowly becoming a mainstay of work across industries, according to the survey.
So future career paths to look out for include: Artificial intelligence, Big data, the Internet of Things, non-humanoid Robotics and encryption. These new technologies are set to drive future growth across industries, as well as to increase the demand for new job roles and skill sets.
In addition to preparing students to be ready for the jobs of the future, they should also be empowered to design the jobs of the future and not just work in the new jobs created. This is because changing trends will undoubtedly impact on the workplace of the future, and the jobs we take for granted today may be displaced in future.
The already hugely competitive jobs marketplace is set to become even more so in future, with more people competing for fewer opportunities.
Schools must put strong focus on ensuring that students in their care become as competitive as possible, by providing them with the skills which will set them apart in future, and beyond the academic curriculum. Strong technical expertise will always remain important, but now more than ever, young people must develop their ability to think and problem-solve, rather than merely preparing for exams.
Schools must start to actively include these WEF-identified universal skills as an integral part of all curricula, regardless of subject as we have done in the ADvTECH Group of Schools which include Crawford International School and Makini. These skills should not be taught by way of a separate, independent curriculum, but rather incorporated within all general learning, as well as across all subject-specific learning.
In order to develop these skills, students need frameworks, examples, models, clear expectations, developmental targets and both multiple and regular opportunities to put them to practice. Teachers should provide students with regular and specific feedback on the development of these skills through their learning engagements, and formative and summative assessments should take place within the different classes.
Developing these skills is a powerful tool for further exploring specific content, and over time students will be able to reflect on and identify themselves and their competence when using these learning strategies and skills.
The ability of someone to navigate the workforce of the future will depend not just only on their occupation which should not be considered in relation to the present, but in relation to what is expected to come and on their broader skillset which will enable them to perform those functions which are still beyond the capability of robots.
Writers are managing director at Crawford International School Kenya, and education director at the Makini Group of Schools respectively