Getting ready for the unknown

“Many jobs that will exist in the next two decades don’t exist today, in just the same way as the jobs we have today are different from or didn’t exist 20 years ago” – Phil Vokins, Intel.

What do a big data analyst, a driverless car engineer, a mobile app developer, a cloud computing specialist, an Uber driver, and a drone operator have in common? Their jobs didn’t exist ten years ago. Things are changing fast, everywhere. Or almost everywhere.

While change is swirling all around, the one place change seems to avoid is our schools. Except for the addition of a class computer or interactive white board, most modern classrooms, and the curricula that are delivered in them, are nearly indistinguishable the classrooms and curricula of a generation or more ago. And that creates a problem for educators today.

Students are still being trained for jobs that ceased to exist ten years ago, at a time when even the new jobs of today are quickly becoming obsolete. Where is the need for an Uber driver when driverless cars are better? What happens to the big data analyst when artificial intelligence (AI) can do the job in a fraction of the time? Blue-collar jobs are being automated, and white-collar jobs are being replaced by algorithms. The jobs that will remain will be those that can’t be automated: creative, strategic, or professional.

As the pace of change increases, the future become more unknowable and unpredictable. How do you empower students to be ready for the unknown, with the skills they will need for jobs and professions that haven’t even been invented yet? When whole industries can be eliminated almost overnight, how do students safely navigate a career path as they move into the future? The three key skills that can give students fighting chance are teamwork, creativity, and knowledge management.

Students need to be able to scaffold their knowledge to meet the demands of a changing environment. Take what they know, and use their creativity to apply it in a new context. They also need to be able to work in a team-based manner in any circumstance, using tools and software that facilitate that collaboration. They need practice and experience with technology in the classroom that will allow them to nurture these skills.

Take inking, for example. Keyboards replaced pen and paper, which are now being replaced by digital styluses, and the ordinary finger, as a more efficient method of capturing information. As computing becomes more mobile, inking technology becomes the most efficient way to capture work and manipulate information on a touchscreen. The hours spent mastering the QWERTY keyboard, would actually be better spent learning how to write more clearly by hand.

What other skills do you think might be important for preparing children for the workforce of tomorrow? We’re giving educators and students the opportunity to tell us exactly that in our Create, Collaborate, Innovate contest. If you’re a teacher, or know one that would love to explore the future with their class, we’d love to hear from them. The contest asks the class to pick a career that they think will be important in the future, and create a video showing how technology will change that career and those that adopt it in the future. The winning entrant will receive a prize pack of 15 HP Notebooks and an HP Sprout.

If you are looking for more insight into how you can begin the digital journey for your classroom, contact me. I’d be happy to help. Click here to learn more about the contest and enter for a chance to win.

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