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Skills to Future Proof Our Kids: Educating the Future Workforce:

Updated: Mar 7, 2022

As a mother of two young children and an accountant who is a keen futurist it is clear to me that we are in times of unprecedented change where the only certainty is uncertainty. So what does the future look like with the tsunami of digital disruption upon us and to come, especially for our children, their education and future careers.

"We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten" - Bill Gates

If you were born before the mid 1990's the internet and social media were non existent (or hardly used), whereas the generations today are born into the digital age and this type of technology is commonplace to them. Let’s look at how communication has changed in the last few decades from snail mail and land line telephones to instant communication through email, SMS, instant messaging, the internet and smart phones.  The technological changes have been rapid and unrelenting.

These changes have disrupted industries and businesses. We have moved from the industrial revolution to now living in the automation revolution where anything that can be automated is being automated, ATM’s replacing bank tellers, self-service checkouts replacing retail operators and so on.  At this point you may well say that you liked things the way they were, but if history tells us anything it is that we must not have the attitude of ‘We have always done it that way’ as it will come at a cost. Who remembers Kodak? Or the Borders Bookstores? And Rest in Peace the beloved Blockbuster. The technological advancements are coming thick and fast and the pace of change has caused casualties but there are also winners. Now we have Netflix, Facebook, Google and Apple – these companies have not been around very long but they have disrupted the industries they function in. They did things differently and they brought new ways of doing things which as a society we have collectively got on board with. Those that were not willing to change or did not see the writing on the wall were left behind and those that embraced it have seen success. 

This type of business disruption ultimately leads to job disruption.  Did you know that $5 million Australians (40% of the Australian workforce) are estimated to be replaced by computers in the next 10-15 years (CEDA). These are our children’s jobs! So how do we safeguard our children and provide them with the necessary skills to survive and thrive in the future workforce? The first step would be to think outside the box and not do things the same way we have always done them. 

Automation and Artificial intelligence will be prevalent, which means our children will not be doing jobs that could be automated or learnt by computers. Our children will need to be able to harness technology, so digital know how will be important. Most people born into the digital age seem to intuitively have some level of digital know how, however it needs to be enhanced and this could be through DIGITAL CODING. I believe this will be an integral skill like reading or writing in the future. Good schools and educators are already starting to teach children these skills as part of their curriculum.

There are however other skills that will be highly prized in the ever changing technological future and these need to be nurtured from a young age, such as INNOVATION, CREATIVITY, ENTREPRENEURSHIP and PROBLEM SOLVING. The ability to COMMUNICATE, CONNECT, LEAD and possess EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE will set those that possess these skills apart to enable them to reach higher levels of success. So how do we educate our children to possess these skills? A good start would be giving our children the time and space to nurture these skills through "GENIUS HOUR" at schools. Genius Hour is a time set apart for children to explore their passions and creativity and start the building blocks for creativity and problem solving encouraging adaptability whilst also doing something they enjoy. 

Although it may not seem like much, it is these little changes from repetitive and rote learning to creative problem solving and increasing digital know how that will help equip our children to be prepared and successful for the future. Let's not underestimate the benefit of small changes now otherwise we may not be prepared for the larger changes ahead.

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