With the onset of the Coronavirus, several economies around the world are expected to fall into a recession. There is a threat to businesses around the world and the unfortunate situation may leave hundreds of millions jobless. The virus reflects the uncertain world we live in. A world that will possibly get progressively more and more unpredictable for our children, especially in relation with jobs of the future.
According to McKinsey & Co, by 2030, about 8-9% of the 2.66 billion global workforce will be in new professions. In addition, about 400 million workers will be displaced by adoption of automation. McKinsey further states “automation and AI will lift productivity, but millions of people worldwide may have to switch professions or upgrade skills”. Specific to India, the McKinsey Global Institute states that about 60 million and 120 million workers are expected to be displaced by automation and will need to change occupational categories respectively.
Statistics and future predictions only tell one part of the story. A candid conversation even today with any CEO or HR Manager reveals that it is getting progressively hard to find talent. To hire one or two good people companies need to evaluate multiple candidates. Even as the ideal worker is recruited, there is no guarantee the worker will perform according to expectations. On one hand the situation is putting enormous pressure on business organisations, and on the other, it is rendering qualified young individuals jobless or in jobs they don’t desire.
What are the main reasons for the problem? What does this mean for today’s parents? How can schools bridge the divide between employment and education?
There are several reasons for the talent problem. A large part of the current curriculum is outdated. Teachers are either not motivated or not adequately trained. The teaching methodologies, too, are largely outdated, as are assessment and examination systems.
The curriculum needs to be updated to include knowledge that will be at premium in the future, such as coding, artificial intelligence, genome, augmented reality, etc. Things that get talked about less yet are probably the most important are soft skills. Data from the 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey shows that among the most important skills we will need for tomorrow include confidence, ethical aptitude and interpersonal skills.
Today’s teachers need to become superstars, especially since the weight of preparing learners for a rapidly changing world falls squarely on their shoulders. Teachers will need to learn to focus on developing their own, and their learners’ motivation. They shall be required to shift their focus from teaching to enabling learning. Outdated teaching methodologies where the teachers are doing all the work will need to give way to newer models where it is the learners who end up doing the work. For whoever does the work, does the learning! Testing systems will need to be improved so that they test not only knowledge, but also the soft skills as well as the application of knowledge.
What this means for today’s parents is that they will need to dramatically shift their focus from demanding a traditional model (frontal teaching and tests) to a more progressive model where the learning is both deeper as well as holistic. They will need to revisit their belief that what worked for them will work for their children. The world in which our children will operate shall be very different from our world. Being resistant to change has become an extremely high risk strategy. Parents will need to shift their mindset and explore progressive teaching methods such as problem based learning (PBL), inquiry based learning and experiential learning.
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Schools will also need to introspect and undergo a complete transformation. By embracing newer teaching methods, they will need to shift focus from merely delivering content to real world application of knowledge. Teacher recruitment, training and evaluation methods will also require a complete change. Schools will need to hire outstanding teachers that are creative, versatile, emotionally intelligent and adaptable.
Excessive focus on standardised tests will need to give way to rubric based assessments which are far more holistic and are designed to assess not only soft skills but also track deeper learning. Schools will need to create a learning environment that closely resembles the real world, one in which the learners learn by working together, doing projects and solving real world problems. One in which learners come up with new ideas and solutions which can be exhibited to and critiqued by the real world. As learners grow older and need to select subjects that will ultimately define their careers, schools will also need to create internship opportunities with real world employers.
The more aligned the schools become with the real world, the less the gap will be between what is learnt at school and the skills shall be needed in life after school.
Sandy Hooda, Co-Founder – Vega Schools
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