- Patricia Neuray
Four Educational Changes to Prepare the Future Workforce
There are numerous statistics about the future of the workplace that can be pretty disarming. For example, the Institute for the Future predicts that eighty-five percent of the jobs that today’s students will do in 2030 don’t exist yet. Another study predicts that almost half of all workplace activities could be automated in the future. So, how do educators and students prepare for a future workplace that is so uncertain? And how do we ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to be successful? In BCT Partners’ blog this week, we explore this topic and the hard (and soft skills) that will be required to take on the careers of the future. As a minority-owned consulting practice, BCT is deeply committed to helping to guide corporations as well as governmental agencies towards solutions that are equitable and inclusive.
Flexibility, complex problem-solving, self-direction, as well as an attitude that embraces life-long learning will be necessary skills for our future workforce. Kids today will need to be able to quickly adapt to technological advances which could rapidly evolve their workplaces and even entire industries. Gone are the days when someone could start and end their career in the same type of job. Future workers will need to be open to the idea of possibly changing careers many times in their professional life.
They will also need to be critical thinkers. As a result, some elementary and high schools in Canada and around the world are piloting a course of study which encourages students to spend up to 20% of their school day on projects which are of interest to them. The idea is modeled after programs developed by many tech companies such as Google that encourage employees to spend time on passion projects and thinking outside the box. The school projects culminate with peer and school-wide presentations. So, this self-directed curriculum helps to build entrepreneurial, communication and problem-solving skills while also resulting in students being more deeply engaged with the subject matter.
In addition, future workers will need to view education as a life-long pursuit in order to be prepared for changes as they occur. That doesn’t mean that parents will need to put their kids through college or technical training courses indefinitely, but it does mean that keeping abreast of new things through online or offline courses will give them the best chance of adapting. Curiosity and a passion for learning will be traits that will be highly valuable to workers in the future.
Lastly, as our society diversifies and economies become more globally intertwined, students will need to learn how to interpret and respect economic, racial and cultural differences. Fortunately, with advances in education technology, many teachers can start to bring the world to their students. Video sharing platforms allow classrooms to directly interact with students in other school districts, states, or even in other countries. This exposure will help them to develop a deeper understanding of different socio-economic conditions, religions, political environments as well as the interconnectedness of our world. The ability to appreciate and be sensitive to these differences will be an increasingly important skill in the future.
In summary, the way that we teach students and prepare them for the future will need to evolve. Subject matter that is geared towards cultural understanding and solving real-world problems will not only engage the students, but it will also create a more harmonious society. For some real-life examples of kids that are already embracing this philosophy and trying to change the world at the same time, read more here.
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