The seismic shifts being created by technological advancement have profound implications for how future lives and careers will pan out but despite all the forecasts, the truth is we don’t know exactly what the world of work will look like in 10 years. What we know for sure is that the future of work will be characterised by ongoing and rapid change.
There are three clear trends we can look at which are already impacting how we work and they have huge implications for the capacities and capabilities we should be teaching children from the critical primary years.
The three shifts driven by technological advancement and accelerating exponentially:
We see increasing casualisation of the workforce. This is sometimes sold as the ultimate flexibility where you can vlog from a hammock and make millions. The reality is that there’s far more responsibility on the individual to create the stability and security that institutions used to provide so enterprising and entrepreneurial skills are a necessity for everyone.
Globalisation of the workforce means you’re no longer competing with locals. There’s more movement and the barriers to offshoring and remote working are also far less so you could be competing for a job against someone 5 km down the road or 5,000 km away.
And the big one, automation. The forecasts vary wildly but there’s no doubt that automation will have an impact on most jobs whether it’s a sudden occupation wipe out as is likely for 3 million US truck drivers or a slower creep of individual tasks being automated within an occupation.
All this means that individuals will have far more responsibility for their career stability and success than ever before. Careers will be survival of the most adaptable and those who learn to embrace a lifetime of learning and course adjustments will be the ones that thrive.
In the face of this certain uncertainty, students from the age of 10 are more worried about their future than bullying or self image.
But if we flip our optimistic switch, it becomes clear that for those with the right skills:
Casualisation can mean the ultimate flexibility in designing your life.
Globalisation can mean the worlds' opportunities are more open to all.
Automation and innovation will also create new jobs and they will be less mundane. They’re just harder to see.
There’s never been so much opportunity to craft a career and life which perfectly suits you if you have the intrinsic motivation and the skills. To arm young people with those skills we need to teach them to explore, design and navigate for themselves. And that's not something you do using a leaflet at 16.
The best thing parents and educators can do to prepare young people for the future is to help them recognise moments of inspiration wherever and whenever they strike and help them dive down the rabbit hole to investigate deeper. By doing this we strengthen their innate curiosity and love of learning and these are the skills they'll need. It's less important whether their current inspiration is coding or cooking, artificial intelligence or art therapy.