In 15 years, when today’s children enter the workforce they will be applying for, and accepting, jobs that don’t exist today. Fortune magazine and The Futurist magazine have put out articles highlighting this reality.
The 11 jobs of the future are based on projecting current technology innovations into the future and assuming that their use will become more ubiquitous. Should this happen they identify current areas of work that may provide an advantage in getting into the future role.
The Futurist takes a different approach to a similar discussion. Rather than extrapolating current career choices for future relevance the article identifies 14 skills that will be needed in the future workplace. They then align these skills with a forecast of the impact of today’s disruptive technologies and create a list of 162 jobs of the future.
Whether these jobs themselves come to pass, or not, is less important than the discussion they elicit about the skills and development we are investing in today. At the most basic level questions need to be asked of primary and secondary education, but we need to rethink our approach to corporate training and development too. These will, in turn, have a reciprocal impact on tertiary education and the career choices it prepares graduates for.
Schools need to shift from teaching children “information” to teaching them how to use the things that already provide that information with a higher degree of relevance and accuracy. In a world where a child is currently only expected to meet the minimum standard of information regurgitation to pass a subject they will be the peasant class of worker in a world serviced by super-computer powered Artificial Intelligence enhanced by Machine Learning algorithms that go far beyond anything a school teacher can impart.
School children need to learn how to use the work product generated by these advances in technology, but in a way that positions them for succeeding advances too.
This means teaching HOW to think, not just WHAT to think.
Encouraging QUESTIONS not teaching ANSWERS.
Developing the ability to METAMORPHOSE from a worm to a moth, not just EVOLVE into a better worm.
The real challenge for adaption, however, is in the corporate workplace. Other than using projectors and slideshows rather than chalkboards we are still delivering learning and development in ways that our grandparents would feel comfortable with, and for jobs that our grandparents would feel familiar with.
Training and development needs to be investing in the development of perspective and insight needed to manage challenges and opportunities in the world of work that cannot be anticipated in a prefabricated training intervention. We need to ensure that development activity is orientated around current delivery requirements – if we aren’t able to deliver well today then we will not be around tomorrow. How we do this, however, must also unlock future fitness.
Use simulations that have several acceptable outcomes – not lectures that present one mode of thinking.
Use gamification that adds a process and deductive element to learning – not exams that primarily assesses an ability to regurgitate information.
Offer mentoring and reverse-mentoring relationships that encourage conversation where stories share the wisdom gained from past experiences and enable it to be contextualised in t
he modern world – not disconnected organisational hierarchies with separate entrances and corporate cliques.
The workplace of the future will look nothing like the present. We need to make sure that we are investing our development dollars today for maximum return and relevance in both the present and disrupted future.