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Stuck in the past | Sharon Baker

 

Sharon BakerArticle provided by Sharon Baker, Mighty Social

When I was a young girl going through school it felt like the world was my oyster.

There were so many career choices, all carefully carved out by years of ancestors dutifully taking up roles which, lets face it, have barely changed.

Bank managers, to hairdressers, doctors to pilots, these jobs were solid and unwavering representations of our human evolution and our education reflected and mirrored these with, once again, very little change.

I opted to study politics which at the time really grabbed my attention - but a twist of fate would have it that a temp job I took one summer led me to discover a love for coding - something that was not remotely on my radar at the time. Now I run my own successful adtech business, definitely not something I had dreamt of as a young girl!

And now we have reached a crucial turning point - in fact we have actually overtaken this crucial point - which is why I feel a strong degree of urgency creeping up.

Our current education system is no longer fit for purpose - it has not been for some time but we have been slow to catch up and slower still to acknowledge the major changes that need to occur.

Now that my two children are going through school I feel we are treading water as we funnel talent into a narrow and restricted neck of an hourglass. For what reason? To prepare them for a world of work?  But which jobs are we talking about?

What is increasingly evident is that our current approach is inadequate, even for those, such as my children, who will be leaving school in the next decade.

Even the once reliable trade of pharmacist is on shaky ground. Back in 2011 a new style pharmacy opened in San Francisco and by the end of its first year trading it had provided two million prescriptions without a single mistake. This high-tech pharmacy owes its success to the specialised algorithms which have taken over.

Just as streaming annihilated video and music stores, time is running out for cashiers, ticket assistants through to HR specialists - mass interviews are already being conducted in China via AI to hone down the numbers to a handful of likely candidates.

On the upside this massive shift means human potential is being freed up from more mundane tasks giving us more opportunities to innovate and create. We are on the cusp of exciting new frontiers.

Artificial intelligence and algorithms are now playing a significant role in our everyday lives, yet we are so focused on data that we waste huge amounts of human potential, squeezing the creativity out of young minds.  Yet as I write this the new professions that are emerging require more flexibility and creativity than our current education system allows.

In my opinion tomorrow’s workforce will not be judged on what they know, but rather on their skills set and their ability to thrive in an economy that is continually evolving. I am already witnessing a rising need for problem-solving capacity teamed with analytical skills to address causes rather than just managing the effects.

As it stands there is little in our current education system that prepares children for employment now - let alone in a couple of decades’ time.

If young people are to succeed in the future, we need to begin considering how we can best teach new competencies, new skills, new applications and new knowledge. We need to shift our educational mindset to prepare our children for their future as opposed to our past.