Fourth Revolution is real and irreversible. As we see advancements in Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) machines will continue to take over more and more labour-intensive jobs. This is good news for mankind as this will free us from drudgery and toil. With machines taking over jobs involving basic cognitive skills and physical/manual skills, humans will have a lot more time to create, collaborate and entertain.
What does this essentially mean for our children? What are the jobs that children of today should plan for? What are the core skills that will be needed for the future and how should children acquire them now? According to a recent US Department of Labor report, 65 percent of today’s school children will eventually be employed in jobs that have yet to be invented. However, majority of the students today are caught up in the competitive education system preparing for jobs that are existing in the world today. As parents/educators or policy makers, it is our duty to bridge this gap between what the future needs vs. what the children are learning. This is critical to address because this competition is not only ruining the childhood of an entire generation, but it will also create a mammoth skill deficiency for our planet for the year 2030.
What are the skills that will be most in demand by the year 2030?
The Future of Jobs Report 2018 published by the World Economic Forum indicates that in place of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) skills, executives of today are placing premium on creativity-based skills such as critical thinking and collaboration. Basis the report we can assume that technological advances are making human skills more important than ever. It is logical to assume that as technology use become more rampant, the need for human skills will become more acute.
Economists, educators, sociologists agree that the world of 2030 will need a strong marriage between technology skills and human skills. While demand for Basic Cognitive and Physical and Manual Skills will reduce, demand for higher Cognitive skills, social/emotional Skills and Technology skills will increase. Demand for higher cognitive skills such as creativity, critical thinking and decision making, and complex information processing, will grow through 2030 at cumulative double-digit rates.
How do we prepare our children for the future?
Over the past decade, educators and educational philosophers have evolved education systems from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) into STREAM (Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics). While focus on STEM skills was very necessary in the early decades of the Industrial Revolution, this focus has led to undervaluing of the subjects of core humanities like history, philosophy, literature and arts. It is common sense that without a balance offered by these humanity skills, technology on its own will be sorely misguided.
STREAM curriculum allows students to learn vital skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration and innovation along with essential technology skills sets. If only the STEM curriculum were to be taught, students would only be acquiring technical skills and come up with innovative ideas without evaluating the human aspects.
However, just a focus on STREAM will not be enough to create a world which is ready to drive the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the right direction. Along with tech and creative skills, the human race will also need civic and ethical understanding to wield these powerful technologies with wisdom, perspective and due regard for the well being of others. Technological drive will constantly need a strong cultural and moral compass.
While all the above skills should be adequate for the future, these cannot be learnt once during childhood and then implemented life-long. The Fourth-Industrial- Revolution will also necessitate the concept of life-long learning.
In summary, the future for our children is as promising as we choose to see it. Advancements in technology will ensure that all creative and critical thinking skills will become more in demand. The world will need artists, entertainers, athletes and technology experts all together and with equal importance. The only things that will differentiate success from failure are:
- Level of proficiency in a chosen skill
- Willingness to constantly learn and adapt
- Extent of team work and collaboration
- Ability to think critically and solve problems
Given this future, would we rather have your child focus only on Maths and Science when he/she clearly shows a keen interest in sports? When learning will be a life long process, would we rather have a child who loves to learn or a child who despises learning? If we want our children to be future ready, we need to help them find their core passion be it in arts, sciences, sports or elsewhere. We need to create an ecosystem where they love to learn and are happy to collaborate in place of compete. In place of solving problems for them and giving them everything on a platter, we need to encourage them to think critically and solve their own problems.
We are not here to curse the darkness, but to light the candle that can guide us through that darkness to a safe and sure future. – John F Kennedy
I invite parents, caregivers, educators and policy makers to join us in creating this light. I will continue to share deeper information into each of the above areas and look forward to hearing thoughts from all of you. I hope you take a moment to share this blog with those who need this light.
P.S. This blog is part of series of blogs on the future of learning and working. If you wish to read other blog in this series, click here.