EDUCATION AND THE FUTURE OF WORK

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On 6 March 2019 to mark International Women’s Day 2019, a group of school children will take to the stage at the annual everywoman in Technology Forum in front of 600 industry heavyweights to debate the future of work as they see it and to share their aspirations for the workplace.

From the gig economy to shared work spaces promoting creative collaboration, to flexible working and corporate offices as you’ve never seen them before, the future of work is quite the hot topic. We are experiencing a revolution in the way the workforce operates and technology has been the driving force behind this.

It is fascinating to think that today’s school children will go into jobs that have yet to be invented. The rapid advancement of Artificial Intelligence and machine learning is such that the needs of business and industry are shifting at an unprecedented rate. The speed of change may be exhilarating, but how can our education system prepare today’s children for the working environment of tomorrow?

Business leaders understand that there are core skills that cannot (at least for now) be programmed: leadership; teamwork; adaptability; interpersonal skills; creativity – all these and more will be top of the list for recruiters as they seek out the business stars of the future.

So how do we equip our education system to teach these competencies?  With schools under ever increasing financial pressure and parental demand for league table success, are our schools prepared to arm children with the skills they will need?

2019 marks the centenary of the education pioneer, Maria Montessori, introducing her unique method to Britain. A paediatric doctor working with children with special needs, her classroom doubled as a laboratory where she developed highly effective teaching methods that helped deprived children achieve their full potential.  As news of her success spread, Montessori travelled the world lecturing about her discoveries and establishing schools based on her principles.  Fundamental to the method is child-centred education; by allowing children freedom to develop within a structured environment it fosters a love of learning, supporting children to follow their innate interests at a pace that is right for them.

Several global business icons credit the Montessori method with providing the framework that influenced their later success including the founders of Google and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.  Whilst not a Montessorian, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, cites the education method as one of the few to encourage independent thinking.  The pace of change in the workplace shows no signs of abating, yet the solution may already be prevalent within our global education system.  Progress may be synonymous with moving forward, but in the case of future skills for business, perhaps the solution might be to look back.

 

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