Resilience and adaptability are the key to our children’s future

In an increasingly automated workplace, we have to get serious about future-proofing young people. Bett 2019 will see the industry coming together to think about how technology can help educators and learners fulfil their potential. Often we talk about how technology can meet classroom needs, but we also need to be clear on how the classroom meets the needs of the hi-tech future. Joysy John, director of education at Nesta, will lead a session at Bett on how resilience, and the ability to adapt, are central to children’s futures

Many of the careers we see today are facing an uncertain future; this was the conclusion of Nesta’s recent Future of Skills 2030 report, in partnership with Pearson and Oxford Martin School. Overall, 70% of the UK workforce are in occupations facing uncertain future demand. Around 10% of the UK workforce are in occupations that are likely to grow as a percentage of the workforce – including education, healthcare and wider public sector. As for the remaining 20%, these occupations are likely to shrink.

This is not only driven by technological advances, but also by other megatrends such as political uncertainty, rising inequality and changing demographics, among others. Many processes within jobs today are likely to become automated, also leading to job displacement. This means that demand for skills will change significantly. Our research predicts that employers will need higher-order cognitive skills like problem-solving and creativity, as well as interpersonal skills. Specific digital skills such as multimedia production, animation, design in engineering and data analysis will be in greater demand.

Moving away from exams
Currently, much of school culture is still heavily influenced by exam results and league table expectations. We need to move away from this model, and adapt, if we are to meet the challenges that the future world of work presents. So how can schools start to respond to the challenges of this new reality?

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Sharing responsibility
We can’t expect teachers to meet this challenge alone. We will need everybody – school leaders, businesses, government, parents and peers – to play their part. Together we must equip children with broader skills – and the resilience to be able to adapt to the uncertainty of the future – and make informed decisions about training and career pathways.

Nesta’s Future Ready Fund is an example of how schools can access resources for early-stage interventions to develop secondary school pupils’ social and emotional skills. Meanwhile, in Camden, local employers have been participating in the STEAM 21st Century Talent Pledge, helping young people secure internships and apprenticeships in the creative and knowledge economy. Ted Baker also led a Dragon’s Den fashion business challenge for 13 to 15-year-olds – just the kind of initiative to get children thinking in the right direction.

The Bett Show will give us all an opportunity to come together and share our vision for how we can lead youngsters towards the life outcomes they deserve. There are big changes on the horizon; let’s remember that no-one can predict the future – the best we can do is make sensible preparations ahead of time, and be willing to re-invent ourselves. The classroom is as important a starting place as any to build momentum for this.

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