Attaining the Pot of Gold
I recently toured the Bickley Park site with my first ever Armenian prospective parent. As we were walking between the Pre-Prep and Prep site, we spoke about his leadership role in developing software for a major company. I asked him about what sort of employee he was looking for in his line of work. He said that his team initiate many different potential ideas for software development, only 30% of which have a chance of being adopted. Such work requires flexibility in thinking; resilience and persistence; the ability to collaborate effectively and creatively with diverse others; a willingness to understand that ideas that fail, and are not developed to completion, are all part of the creative process that, hopefully, leads to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Experts predict that those who will be employed in the most professionally (and financially) rewarding jobs in 10-15 years time will be the creative, out of the box, critical thinkers who can do what automatons can’t. Half of the jobs currently undertaken by workers in traditional professions, such as the law and medicine, will no longer exist due to automation.
In many respects, there is a disconnect between the education currently delivered in UK schools/universities and the skills and mind set required by many employers. According to an article recently posted on the BBC on-line, a survey of 174 organisations indicated that half of employers don’t think graduates have the skills to start work. A theme cited as needing development was “the ability to work with people and get things done when things go wrong”. In video clips embedded in the on-line article, the ability to be flexible and adaptable, whilst learning to work effectively within a diverse workforce, were cited by two graduates, who have recently joined large firms, as areas they wished they had developed more fully before undertaking full time employment.
When I left Singapore, in 2001, after working in the city state for five years, the government was in the process of moving towards the inclusion of more creative subjects in their education system. East Asian schools achieve amazing results through a rigorous, disciplined, mechanical approach to learning. However, those same countries are recognising that such an approach does not necessarily develop a work force well placed to function effectively in a fast changing world. The Chinese government is encouraging schools from the western world to open up at a rapid rate in China in order to have access to a system that develops out-of-the-box, creative thinkers.
The rate of change in society and work, driven by technology, is set to accelerate, which is likely to mean that the gap between what the education system produces and what the world of work demands may widen still further. I believe it is never too young to start developing skills for the future that will enable children to grow into adults who can engage successfully with a much changed world.