work in the future are our kids ready?

This week’s post has been written by Guest Educator, Brian Ambrosio, who has been involved in education for the last 28 years.  Starting as a Maths and Physical Education teacher in Australia, he moved into international teaching/administration in various countries including Turkey,  Palestinian Territories, England and Peru.  For the last 11 years he has been involved in Government School Education Transformation in the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia.

The future of work is a daunting thought. A child who is 4 or 5 years old now will face a vastly different working environment compared to the past and the present. The skill sets they will require as they enter the workforce in 2030 – 35 are almost unimaginable. So, are they prepared?

Alec Ross in, “The Industries of the Future”, describes a wide range of fundamental changes that are occurring right now in the way we live and how this may impact on future employment opportunities. He describes the new industries that are being created through technology which are destroying existing employment opportunities. He predicts that 65% of students who enter primary school today will work in a job that does not exist at the moment. If countries are ill prepared to adapt to the changes then:

Unlike the previous wave of digital-led globalization and innovation, which drew enormous numbers of people out of poverty in low-cost labour markets, the next wave will challenge middle classes across the globe, threatening to return many to poverty.

Want to be a taxi driver working for a taxi company? Think again. Ross explains that this will be one job that could be totally obsolete, either gobbled up by a combination of the driverless car or sharing platforms sweeping the globe. This could also extend to delivery companies as technologies impact on the whole transportation sector.

He describes the growth of robots including artificial intelligence or machine intelligence and how they are now starting to take our jobs, and even be our carers. Japan, with an ageing population, is on the verge of revolutionizing how the elderly will be cared for in the future and at the forefront of this technology of “caretaker robots” are Toyota and Honda. Robots are also starting to play a role in the operating room with 1300 surgical robots sold in 2013 for $1.5 million dollars each. In America, the number of robotic procedures is increasing by 30% yearly.

The medical field will also be hugely transformed with the next “trillion dollar” industry being built on our own genetic code. The life sciences will have an enormous impact on our lifestyle, including how we prevent illness and live longer, but Ross warns these new breakthroughs will be unevenly distributed between those who can adopt such advancements, and those who will be left further behind.

The concept of paying cash for items and using credit cards will also be a thing of the past as the codification of money becomes the standard way of trading. While “Bitcoin” and other crypto currencies are in the early stages of development and are identified with scepticism due to the lack of regulation, its technology, the “block-chain” could finalise the codification of money. The impact on the banking and finance sector will be significant.

Land was the raw material of the agricultural age, iron was the raw material of the industrial age and data is the raw material of the information age. 90% of the world’s digital data has been generated over the last two years, and every year it grows by 50%. This is a whole industry in itself with jobs focussed on big data analytics. This is already changing everything from how farmers operate with new tractors having a cockpit similar to a plane, and the data analysis of the soil conditions, weather patterns revolutionising the efficiency of farming. He also describes more basic technology such as the App, “Icow” in Kenya that shares vital information with farmers to ensure improved efficiency of managing the cows and identification as when it is the best time to sell.

This book is a must read for educators and parents around the world to remind us to constantly reflect on whether we are preparing out children for this “Brave New World”. Ross suggests that a college degree will be next to useless 15 years after graduation, if there is not a commitment to life-long learning given the pace of change is so rapid. Students should have an understanding of new technologies, a world view, be fluent in a scientific or programming language, be exposed to interdisciplinary approaches to the science and humanities, be able to break down problems into smaller parts and solve them, as well as have the skills and adaptability to change career/work pathway. Straight “As” and “academic success” is not enough, and probably irrelevant.

The changes that are taking place in the world today as described by Ross should have wide reaching implications for the next 20 years as to the way we are educating our youth. The countries that can adapt their education systems to make this paradigm shift are going to give their citizens the best chance of success. Parents contribution to the development of their children’s life skills as describe by Ross, and their choice of educational institution could be significant factors for their successful participation and adaption to this “Brave New World”

Brian Ambrosio

Over to You…

What are you thoughts on getting your children ready for such a vastly different world of work? Is it something you’ve thought about? Do you take steps to ensure your child will be better prepared? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below.

References: Ross Alec, 2016, The Industries of the Future, Simon & Schuster, New York