The future world of work is uncertain

The first piece in our Trends in Education series explored the idea that schools will soon be required to start engaging with, and teaching aspects of the Sustainable Development Goals as set by the United Nations in 2015.
These 17 goals, we believe, provide a perfect framework for individuals, organisations and especially schools to:

  1. Better understand sustainable development, the interconnected nature of the world, and the importance of long-term thinking 
  2. Better identify ways to implement SDG-principles across a school curriculum, infrastructure and cultural environment.

This second piece will look to explore a trend influencing education that we simply cannot ignore. We feel that schools and educational institutions are needing to adapt to the changing world so much faster than before. We believe that the skill sets and character qualities required for sustainable development are not necessarily broadly embedded in our current education systems.

So first, let’s look at the external. The world; the economy; the challenges facing us all; any governments’ ability (or lack thereof) to develop sustainably; the environment and the technological revolution we are undergoing.

A lot is going on, at a rather rapid rate. And this rate is only increasing by the year.

Planetary Boundaries - Earth's capacity is running out

[The Planetary Boundaries are one academic example of how we are rapidly changing the environment and the ways in which we interact with it. It also shows that our current ways of being are not at all sustainable for future generations.]

One thing that is clear in this busy world is that the relationship between people and planet; industry and society and between people themselves is changing radically as a result of large global shifts. This radical change creates understandable uncertainty among all people’s psyche. And as a result, I believe that these radical changes are having toiling effects on the mental health and states of mind of our youth, and population as a whole. 

The student climate strikes are evident proof that the youth feel uncertain, anxious and concerned for the way in which we have chosen to interact with our environment. These strikes were a part of a global movement in 2019 and illustrate the attitude felt among students of today’s age. 

So, what does this mean for schools?

Schools fulfill one of the most important roles in society – preparing our youth for future generations by equipping them with the correct skills and values required for the benefit of future generations. Because of our rapidly changing landscape, these values and skill-sets are having to adapt over time, only now at a far more rapid rate.

The future world of work, whatever that may look like one day, demands our youth to be adaptable in the light of all the changes that occur around us. It will also require our youth to have 21st-century skill sets and character qualities for a completely new way of thinking about our relationship with each other and with the environment.

These skill sets and character qualities tie deeply into the way in which humans have decided to live over the past 60 years which has been characterised by a highly impactful way of life, with disregard for societal and environmental well-being. The character qualities and skill sets required will always evolve with the way in which the global community engages with each other and the planet and our future is calling for a more empathetic and sustainable approach.

Schools are going to always be challenged to keep integrating frameworks, educational methodologies and relevant content to keep engaging learners in meaningful experiences that promote 21st-century skills and attitudes required for the benefit of future generations. It is by no means an easy feat and task to take on, but one that will make evident shifts in the bigger picture.

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