The future workplace

When we look back 10 years, even 5 years and see the changes that have happened in terms of technology in both our personal and work lives, and how this is impacting on our structures and social relationships we can only imagine what the next 5 years will bring. Artificial intelligence and virtual reality are here…….. growth is happening exponentially! As a result of all the change I believe people are living with more fear and anxiety. One of the ways we could deal with the fear is to take the bull by the horns and anticipate the changes and plan how we choose to deal with it. (the other options don’t bear thinking about).

So let’s think it through; what sort of skills do people need to thrive today and in the future ?

They need to be able to deal with and ever increasing abundance of contacts. We hear people talking about 3, 4 and 5 hundred emails per day. And then there is social media and telephone contacts. It takes a lot of skill to manage and filter these contacts……not to mention time.

Situations change in a heartbeat so it is important not to treat any situation as too permanent. The one constant is change and we need to be mentally prepared to move with it. It won’t work to be a rigid branch on the tree, we need to supple and bend in the wind.

We may have many contacts, and thousands of friends on facebook but you can’t hold a thousand hands at once. Do we have permanent and close social relationships with people who can shelter us from the storms. The family which was traditionally our backbone of support seems to be on the decline …….maybe to replaced by our Facebook page. (I have an ex student who shares her life on Facebook and asks her Facebook friends for advice from everything from childrearing to who to vote for.

The sociologist, Emile Durkeim (1858-1917) noticed the breakdown in moral behaviour in society that he believed resulted from the specialised division of labour in industrial society. He believed there was a breakdown in the collective consciousness that resulted from a lack of common belief. One can only wonder what he would think today. Definitely we can ask the question about what it does to our social structures when our life with our online, virtual friends takes precedence over the people we see and touch and support in our real worlds, As educators how do we prepare our young people for the workplace of the future. Even when we are delivering learning to the personnel in an organisation we need to consider what skills we are going to deliver that are going to continue to be relevant in 5 years.

Skills for 21st Century learning have been around or a while. Learning to learn, critical thinking, problem solving, reasoning, analysis, research skills, collaboration, interrogative questioning, oral and written communication, entrepreneurism, health and wellness literacy, technology skills, agility and adaptability, and the list goes on. Even before we had worked out how we were going to implement these skills we had a new framework, STEM.

BUT how are we implementing these skills in our learning programs. One structure that still seems to be still imbedded in the Industrial Revolution is our education (I include schools, VET and universities) system.

In the VET systems we have regulated institutions which must abide by a set of rules for operation. One of the rules is around the use of Training Packages which are standards apparently endorsed by industry and aligned to job positions. These training packages are updated approximately every 5 years – a very long time!! The content in the training packages is quote specific and rigid and doesn’t meet the requirements of many learners or industries. While it is a competency based system, delivery must meet indicated volume of learning requirements. Delivery can be flexible but state funding structures are aligned to state based organisations who deliver set hours and times. There is a push to include quality in the system but quality seems to equate to more time in the classroom.