Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Why asking our kids what they want to be when they leave school is now redundant

Why asking our students what they want to be when they leave school is now redundant

We have all heard the following statement many times over the past year:

The reality is if you have a child starting school this year, two thirds of the kids in their class will end up doing jobs that don’t quite exist yet.


Thanks to advancements in technology up to 65 percent of children entering primary school today will end up working in completely new job types.

What is the catalyst for this change in skill sets? 
Answer - The Fourth Revolution!

The World Economic Forum’s latest report tells us that there are three reasons why today’s transformations represent not merely a prolongation of the Third Industrial Revolution but rather the arrival of a Fourth and distinct one: velocity, scope, and systems impact:

The speed of current breakthroughs has no historical precedent. When compared with previous industrial revolutions, the Fourth is evolving at an exponential rather than a linear pace. Moreover, it is disrupting almost every industry in every country. And the breadth and depth of these changes herald the transformation of entire systems of production, management, and governance.

The possibilities of billions of people connected by mobile devices, with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, and access to knowledge, are unlimited. And these possibilities will be multiplied by emerging technology breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing.

The excellent video below shows evidence of the dramatic change that is all around us and happening at exponential speed.

The World Economic Forum’s Human Capital Report (2016) and their New Vision for Education Report provides a comprehensive picture of the global workforce and purports the following:

·      Most new jobs will have a technology component to them

·      What will increasingly be needed is good training in basic
technology competence, asking the right questions, critical
thinking, analysing concepts and leading a purposeful

·      Creativity, collaboration and non-cognitive skills will be key

·      Knowledge of traditional arts and humanities subjects is
highly relevant to this, making obsolete past notions of a
dichotomy between humanities and sciences.

And again from the World Economic Forum:
It is predicted that 5 million jobs will be lost before 2020 as artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology and other socio-economic factors replace the need for human workers.
So what skills should workers be acquiring to make sure they have value as the Fourth Industrial Revolution gathers pace?

Some may be surprised to learn that skills we develop in pre-school will be valued highly.

David Deming, associate professor of education and economics at Harvard University, argues that soft skills like sharing and negotiating will be crucial. He says the modern workplace, where people move between different roles and projects, closely resembles pre-school classrooms, where we learn social skills such as empathy and cooperation.

Along with those soft skills, mathematical ability will be enormously beneficial.

So, in conclusion:
 Mathematics + Computer Science + interpersonal skills = being prepared for the future work force!


  1. Nice summary Lyn, couldn't agree more. I do think that a good question to ask students is along the lines of 'what sort of person do you want to be' and 'what will this look like'?

    1. Hi Rob, thanks for the comment :)
      Yes great questions and fits with the emphasis on developing high levels of interpersonal and soft skills.

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