Just for a moment, think about your physical environment. Perhaps you’re taking your lunch break in your car that has satellite radio and reading this article on a mobile device. Maybe you’re at home on your computer where you’ve got another browser tab open, creating a meeting agenda in Google Drive to share with your colleagues.
Evidence that we’re in the middle of the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) is all around us. From the mobile device that can connect you via FaceTime or Slack with co-workers worldwide to cloud computing, we operate in a time and space marked by its reliance on artificial intelligence, blockchain, big data, the Internet of Things, and automation.
As individuals interested in empowering the next generation of young people to succeed, it is time to ensure that the field of education is appropriately responding to the 4IR, which has impacted nearly every industry in recent years. The question, then, is how can we ensure that we educate students to succeed in a world dominated by the 4IR?
Education Lags Behind Industry
Industry reacts to the market’s wants and needs as soon as an opportunity to make a profit presents itself. It adopts lightning-speed technologies and uses them in new ways every day. Industry is structured to pivot at a moment’s notice and to innovate rapidly. However, the same cannot be said for the field of education.
Although education is intended to prepare students to live and work successfully in the world as adults, it is currently not prepared to help them do so in the world of the 4IR. This is mainly because education is not as responsive to the needs of industry that lives and breathes the 4IR. Young learners finish school without the mindset and skills necessary to thrive in this environment.
What We Can Do About It
1. Change How We Think.
Partnerships between educational institutions and industry have increased over the decades to help ensure that students graduate with needed skills. However, they have resulted in education that supports learners being able to do a particular job instead of any kind of work, which is necessary for working in the 4IR.
2. Teach the Right Skills.
Students must learn technical skills to navigate life and work in the 4IR successfully. They need to know how to film, make podcasts, blog, and build wikis, for example. Additionally, they need to become adept at different skills, like creativity, working in teams, innovation, time management, communication, and critical thinking. A 2020 World Economic Forum report states that “critical thinking and analysis as well as problem-solving, and skills in self-management such as active learning, resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility” are critical to business leaders.