Drastic changes in education needed to meet requirements for careers in 2025
By Jenny Coetzee and Angelica Ouya | April 10th 2021
Education must prepare students for a future world of work that doesn’t rely solely on academics
If anyone doubted that the world of work was changing, the pandemic must have removed those doubts. Now is the time to ensure that schools are mindful and deliberate in developing those skills that will be in high demand and necessary for success in a reconstituted future.
Looking toward the future, schools that 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 (WEF) 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 opportunities in new fields will arise, 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 that 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 WEF’s Future of Jobs survey shows that companies are expecting to restructure their workforce in response to new technologies. In particular, the companies surveyed indicated that they were also looking to transform the composition of their value chain, introduce further automation, reduce or expand their current workforce as a result of deeper technological integration, and make greater use of contractors.
The survey also projected that 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.
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There is now also a significant rise in interest in encryption, reflecting the new vulnerabilities of our digital age, and an 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 those jobs and not just work in what has been created. This is because changing trends will undoubtedly impact on the workplace of the future where the jobs we take for granted today may be displaced.
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 beyond the academic curriculum that will set them apart in future. 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. 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.
Coetzee is managing director at Crawford International School Kenya while Ouya is Education Director at the Makini Group of Schools.
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