Experts around the globe have been talking about the failures of the global education system in imparting workplace skills to the future generations for many years now. However, the true scale of the problem has remained largely concealed until this report by the World Economic Forum. The report clearly outlines the disparity between the requirements and the current structure of the system that will leave children with little or no employable skills in the future. Let’s identify the 6 key things that need to be taught to children in order to prepare them for the future workplace.
Training curricula must have a dynamic design in order to match the skills demanded at the workplace. Finland, for example, has adopted this approach that helps impart generic and job-specific skills to children from a very early age. Teachers collaborate with businesses to understand their requirements and students are given opportunities to experience the workplace through mentoring programs and internships. Vocational and technical training programs, like the one in Germany, can further help bridge the gap by providing classroom instructions and practical training to create a robust talent pool for the future.
At present, there are wide gaps in the global STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education outlook with India and China contributing more than 60 percent of STEM graduates every year. Fortunately, STEM education has the tools to offer workplace success for children if it is employed from the beginning. It can help drive innovation, critical thinking and the ability to adapt to changes as the pace of innovation accelerates.
A wider range of careers will demand digital literacy in the future, however, digital fluency will prove to be the differentiator for the future workforce. Information and communication technology (ICT) training will not only be crucial for children, but also for teachers to enable them to keep pace with the learning requirements of the students. NASSCOM’s National Digital Literacy Centres in India that partner with NGOs like Digital Empowerment Foundation, is an excellent example of initiatives that need to be replicated across the globe, especially in the developing world.
Although, social media comes with a lot of benefits, the one biggest flaw it imparts in youngsters is a visible lack of effective communication etiquette. Business communications have to adhere to a higher standard than what children are getting used to through social media. Students need to learn and practice communication skills, especially over digital medium, to ensure that when the time comes, they can replicate that digital behavior in the workplace.
Schools often undermine the importance of teamwork by labeling it as cheating in most learning scenarios. This siloed learning deprives children off the necessary skills that would enable them to survive in a collaborative work environment. Students need to be taught teamwork from a very early stage to help them understand team communication and dynamics that make them valuable project contributors.
The fourth industrial revolution, as some experts call it, is already upon us. And unless the education systems around the world can match its pace of evolution and shed their monolithic structure, they run the danger of creating a generation without the ability to prosper in the new business world. Although, there are examples of innovative programs and curricula from around the world that have begun to address some of these issues, more needs to be done and a concentrated effort of reform that makes the education system more nimble is perhaps what we need the most at the moment.