How can schools and educational institutions help students prepare for one of the most crucial and defining stages of their lives – entering the workforce and embracing adulthood? The world of work is evolving, thanks to great advances in automation and artificial intelligence, and this rate of change will only accelerate as time goes on. According to the World Economic Forum, 65% of today’s primary school children will be employed in jobs that do not yet exist. It is true that a lot also depends on a child’s temperament and personality to understand these skills and work towards honing them, but for many students, there is a disconnect between what they learned in school and what they need in the workplace, and this lack of synergy can make their years of schooling seem misdirected, if not obsolete.
Let’s talk about how schools can prepare students for jobs that haven’t been created yet, for technologies that haven’t been invented yet, and for problems that haven’t been identified yet.
Dear teachers and their students, this may seem like an impossible task to add to already overworked and under-resourced teaching staff, but it will be a shared responsibility to seize opportunities and find solutions.
All that is required is strategic planning to guarantee that you and your students are well prepared for whatever comes next and whatever comes after that.
Ways to prepare students for the future:
Identify specific future-ready skills
Education needs to evolve if it has to accommodate students with enhanced skill sets like artificial intelligence or computational thinking. They must learn certain skills (Design thinking, STEM career development) that will help them to effortlessly adapt and blend into the workforce of tomorrow. One place to begin is with lifelong and flexible learning. Teachers can then identify what the child needs and accordingly customise the method of teaching.
Things students should consider:
- See what you are good at
- Think about the future and what you want from it
- Develop valuable and transferable skills
- Set achievable goals
Encourage students to be more creative
While anxiety about the future is not new, today’s students face many new challenges. Recent technologies, like 3D printing, cloud technology or gadgets connected to the internet, are driving many changes in work and labour. Unprecedented amounts of information are now available with a click, causing information overload and social anxiety. Students must be well-prepared and pushed beyond their comfort zones. They must be encouraged to think outside the box and to self-direct and take responsibility for their own learning. Make students think on their feet. This will encourage an environment of creativity and inspire them to try new things and share their creative thoughts with others.
Incorporate virtual reality
Despite the fact that virtual reality teaching is a far-fetched scenario, it will soon become a reality in India. Consider this scenario: today’s five-year-old child today will enter the workforce in the early 2030s and will continue to work until the 2070s. This method will help expose students to more opportunities. Teachers need to visit workplaces with their students or can also bring businesses to their classes. This way, they can see for themselves how offices and businesses have changed.
Make communication easy
Automation is the future; it will change everyone’s everyday work activities, from miners and landscapers to commercial bankers, fashion designers, welders, and CEOs; however, the new age of learning includes bringing new concepts to the table first and exploring them. Children who have not been taught the art of communication may experience anxiety when responding to pressing social issues, like climate change and poverty. Make them confident enough to speak up when necessary which can prove to be useful in their growing up years. Teachers must encourage students to express their ideas and opinions more clearly and without reluctance.
Introduce a student-centered learning strategy
Instead of asking students to simply follow the curriculum, encourage them to take charge of their own learning. If teachers drive the curriculum towards the why and how of everything, it transforms the pattern of learning into a 21st-century model. Students must be more involved in technology deployment decisions and have a say in making schools future-ready. Similarly, STEM subjects are important in class but arts and humanities subjects also have a place. There’s a joke beloved by humanities academics that goes like if science can tell you how to clone a tyrannosaurus rex, humanities can tell you why this might be a bad idea.
No matter how tech-driven and AI-supported future workplaces become, there will always be a place for independent thinkers, creators, and arts and humanities practitioners.
Inspire students to take calculated risks
Students should be motivated to try out new ideas and think in different ways. Rather than being afraid of failing or making mistakes, students delve deeper into their thinking and seize these possibilities for growth.
Schools and teachers play an important role in helping students discover their interests and develop their talents. Disruptive technologies, on the other hand, are infiltrating the global economy, transforming people’s lives and creating demand for new skills that only a few people possessed only a few years ago. Many jobs that are valuable today will almost certainly be automated in the not-too-distant future, and only those with skills that are unaffected by automation can succeed in a future economy. Smart machines will replace many jobs, robots will make their way, therefore it is important for teachers to equip children with skills that will help them thrive in the 21st century. Hence, have these skills embedded in a core curriculum and your students will be able to adapt quickly and thrive in a dynamic job market.