Advice Column, Education, Parenting, Tween & Teen, Wingu Academy

What is the Future of Work going to be for your kids? 

  • Wingu Academy
  • Category Advice Column, Education, Parenting, Tween & Teen, Wingu Academy

Work as we know it is changing. Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) automation, and robotics will overhaul work at the same level as mechanisation did in prior generations of agriculture and manufacturing. With this change, some jobs will be lost, many others created, but almost all will change. What does this mean for your kids?

We are living in a technology driven world. Things we thought were exciting elements  of Sci-Fi movies a decade ago are being incorporated into our daily lives today. Artificial Intelligence as a service (for example, customer enquiries handled by an algorithm), cars that drive themselves (Tesla’s complete autonomous car is to be released this year and Google’s sister company Waymo has just completed a trial of autonomous taxis in California transporting over  6200 people) and machines that read X-Rays are just the tip of the iceberg. Even though most of us can’t wait for the day that all taxis in SA are driven by safety aware machines, the impact is still profound – what about all those jobs? 

Never before in history, has the choice of your child’s education been more important. McKinsey and Company estimates that over 50 million new technology jobs, 130 million new health care jobs and 20 million new jobs from energy investment will be created by 2030. Startlingly, between 400 and 800 million individuals could be displaced by automation and need to find a new job by 2030 globally. Will there be enough work in the future? 

History would suggest that we need not fear, 8 – 9% of 2030 labour demand will be in new types of employment. 

There are a few key examples from history which we can rely on to give us some key insight into labour demand of the future. After ATMs were introduced in the USA, the number of bank tellers actually rose as banks started competing on service rather than manual cash dispensing. Even though the number of teller per branch decreased, banks could now afford to open more branches to the convenience of customers, leading to a greater overall demand of bank tellers. The personal computer market destroyed 3.5 million jobs, but also created over 15.8 million new jobs since 1850 (now more than 10% of all jobs). Beyond this, the world is seeing growth in the labour market for numerous reasons, but mostly for the growing middle class globally (particularly in Africa and other emerging economies) due to increases in spending on consumer goods, health care and education.     

Most of the workplace transitions will require adopting new ways in which you conduct your work (think of how the COVID pandemic saw your work life transform), and there are numerous sectors that will see great growth in the labour market. About 50% of activities in all jobs today can be fully automated by existing technology and by 2030, 15 – 30% will be automated. Occupations that need less than high school (eg. logging equipment operators, taxi drivers) and the jobs that need a high school qualification (ex. stock clerks, travel agents, firefighters and industrial work) and jobs that require some post school training (such as nursing assistants, web developers, electricians and legal secretaries for example) show the greatest potential of being automatable with more than 50% of the work activities to be displaced by 2030. Occupations that are typical of Bachelors and graduate degrees (such as lawyers, doctors, teachers, statisticians, chief executives) have about 22% automatable tasks.   

The real question is, are your kids getting prepared for this rapid change? 

It is important to pay attention to the following changes, since these will be central to the evolution from today’s world of work into the Future of Work. 

  • Activities such as predictable physical work, data collection and data processing will see the big losses in demand. Machines do these type of things better than us. 
  • Applying expertise, interacting with stakeholders, managing and developing people will see great demand increases. Machines can’t do this. 
  • A distinct shift in capabilities and skills will be needed. Social and emotional skills are the future key metrics in the workplace.  Advanced cognitive abilities such as logical reasoning and creativity will be a requirement for almost every job. 
  • Key competence in technology is a no brainer. There will be very few places in the world that will see jobs created for workers that are not equipped with advanced technology skills.

Many have expressed concern that in today’s world a degree is not enough. However, trends in advanced economies suggest that there will be a drop in jobs available to those without tertiary level qualifications. Advanced degrees (Masters and Doctorates) will become increasingly important, not for the niche fields in which they place the graduates, but for the key skills development in critical thinking, problem solving and creativity. These degrees will equip students with the necessary cognitive skills to outperform machines, but the gap between what degrees teach and what the job market needs has never before been any larger than it is today. There exists a disconnect between what education providers believe they are delivering (over 72% believe new graduates are ready for work) whereas 39% of employers say that a skills shortage is the cause for entry-level vacancies not being filled.  

So, what is the answer? Let children be children, but at the same time expose them to the wonderful changes that are occurring in our world. On an individual level, learners and students must be prepared for lifelong learning. Students must be prepared for a rapidly evolving future of work, and acquiring skills that are in demand and re-examining the notions of traditional careers (where and how they work, and what talents and capabilities they bring to the table) is key.

The key attributes of a successful future worker include:

  • Key skills in digital technology. Every job that exists today will transform into an occupation that needs digital skills. Knowledge of programming and other key digital technology skills will not be reserved for the IT professionals for long. Many jobs today already need some level of comfort with coding, and this trend will continue to grow.
  • Entrepreneurial thinking. The days of planning to work for one employer for life are gone. Managing a career in the future will need individuals to take charge of their own destiny. 
  • Lifelong learning. Machines will displace a vast variety of tasks. Individuals need to focus on what humans are good at, and better at than machines. Jobs will focus on activities that require social skills, management and leadership skills, critical and logical thinking as well as creativity. 
  • Preparing for digital job searching. Digital platforms that link job seekers with potential employers are becoming the norm. Professional networking and building an online presence are crucial skills, and are not easy.
  • New ways of working. Not only do most people nowadays have multiple employers through their lifetime, many are moving beyond a full-time job altogether. Almost 30% of workers in the USA and Europe earn part or most of their income through independent work (freelancing, self-employment or the digital “Gig-economy”. 

Book a demonstration at Wingu Academy to learn about their approach to getting learners ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and the Future of Work (FoW) through their innovative Kukua program. Learning to code, robotics, 3D printing and other key skills such as web development are selected aspects of this Problem Based Learning (PBL) program. Join for selected subjects or homeschool completely with the British International Curriculum and an advanced teaching strategy incorporating the skills needed to be future ready. For more information visit www.wingu-academy.com or email info@wingu-academy.com.  

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