The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn. – Alvin Toffler.
Education during the industrial revolution of the 19th century in Britain provided what is known as literacy – ability to read and write. It is noteworthy that nearly three centuries after the industrial revolution, education in some countries has not improved much.
Lately, there has been an emphasis on the need to prepare students for competency in the area known as STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics); due to the groundbreaking discoveries in Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things, Robotics, Virtual Reality (VR), etc., and the accompanying demand for employees skilled in these spheres. We have seen changes in advertising and print media, as more people around the world have access to smartphones.
The implication of the increase seen in the use of technology will eventually see more people out of jobs. Some of those who lose their jobs due to COVID-19 may not have a job to return to as the pandemic has forced many businesses to adjust to working from home and even higher dependence on technology.
The world will continue to see an increase in the demand for employees who are skilled in areas such as blockchain technology, cloud computing and artificial intelligence, and the likes. But, the future of in-demand job will be skills relating to critical thinking, emotional intelligence, and ability to work in a multicultural environment, creative thinking and collaboration skills.
Most jobs will become technology and computer-driven, but the most critical jobs will be those that cannot be replaced by robots. Hence, the need for leaders in politics, education administrators and other stakeholders to begin to make adjustments where necessary; to enable the creation of a holistic education environment, such that there will be room for every child and students to be able to develop in areas that are innately appealing to them and at their own pace.
The current model of teaching and learning instructions in schools across Africa and some parts of Asia is barely ahead of the type of education provided during the industrial revolution when reading, writing, clerical skills and conformity to social norms was the target. Teachers may require training on ways to teach critical thinking and develop emotional intelligence among children and students, as opposite of one-sided worldview (single story), dogmatic and rigid teaching instructions.
There was a time when a word such as DISRUPTION was perceived as negative; today it is used alongside innovation (Disruptive Innovation).
We cannot stop the wave of change that is coming in terms of new knowledge and innovation and its impact on career, but we can prepare to be active 21st-century humans – by learning, unlearn and relearn what it will take. Change is the only constant thing in life, and there is no better time to prepare than now.
Also, check out How to become successful in the 21st Century