Our future is changing so fast and so dramatically that education institutions worldwide are struggling to keep up. You can take most of the old curriculums and toss them out of the window. And the driver of this disruption is the relentless pace of technological advancement.
Technology is changing everything we know about our world – and it’s only the beginning of what lies ahead. From medicine to food production, construction to manufacturing, travel, entertainment and communications – every sphere is being impinged by change. So, how are we preparing our children for this brave new world? More to the point, are we preparing our teachers?
Matric, tertiary education and the new reality
While within the school system basic subjects such as maths, science, history, geography and language are still important – there should be more room for new teachings in coding, financial operations, small business, green industries, etc. Many jobs that exist today will be obsolete in the next 10 years. And there will be many jobs that are not yet imagined.
While the South African matric pass rate for 2017 has been revealed as 75% – there is a deeper story behind that statistic. If we factor in the high percentage of dropouts during the school journey of those matriculants, we will find that as many as 47% of students leave their education before reaching matric.
The true pass rate, when including the number of students who began their scholastic career 12 years before, and those who actually completed it, brings it down to about 39%. Some of the largest dropout percentages occur in the last two years – and the number of students who enrolled for Grade 10 to the number who completed Grade 12, is around 41%.
In addition, the policy of ‘progressed learners’ – those that have failed twice in Grade 10 or 11 and then been pushed up into matric – has not proved successful. Out of more than 100,000 progressed learners in 2017 only 34,011 managed to write matric, and of these only 18,751 passed. This leaves only 17% of progressed learners actually passing matric.
All this boils down to the grim reality that an unacceptably small percentage of those who begin school in Grade 1 actually make it to a matric university pass. The message is clear: not only do we have to present our learners with a more robustly future-orientated curriculum, but we need to ensure they are able to learn with enough motivation and efficiency to pass from grade to grade and ultimately complete their studies. In other words, a major upgrade of our teachers’ skills is also required. Training for the new world dynamic should become the rallying cry of our education system going forward. And very quickly.
New worlds waiting
It is a common belief that in another 30 years, robots will be doing much of everything, and wiping out millions of current jobs in the process. This will affect office administration, manufacturing, transport, etc. We have already eliminated things like booking systems; everybody books online from air travel to entertainment, which gives an idea of how things will change. Today there are supermarkets without cashiers, and airport terminals without ticket officers, not to mention the growth of things like electric cars which will eliminate the job of the petrol pump attendant.
So what’s left, you might wonder. The good news is that there will be numerous jobs left – but only for those who put in the grind to ensure they have the right education; those who have the grit and the stars in their eyes to focus on success and to stream their talents in the right direction. Maths and science feature prominently in future choices, but there are many areas that will bloom in fields more suited to those with alternative skills in the humanities and arts. The world will still be your oyster – except for those who don’t care to pay attention. All those jobs that are overly labour-intensive will be gone – from road digging to farming, manufacturing, retail and low-level service jobs.
Unless we begin with an education revolution very soon among our first graders, they will emerge unemployable from a stagnated system. However, we can overcome most drawbacks once we realise how we can focus our energies. In our opinion, here are some of the great opportunities that lie ahead for those who are aware and prepared to put in the work:
- Big Data – this will require ‘computational thinking’ – the ability to manage massive amounts of data, pick up on patterns and analyse findings to make sense of it all. Who will need skills: Software developers, computer analysts, market research analysts, and marketing specialists.
- Healthcare – as the population grows, so will needs in the medical arena. And as more people live longer, every aspect of care for the elderly is poised for high growth. While automation may change much of healthcare, many services for the elderly are only just coming on stream. Who will need skills: Medical researchers, medical technicians, physical therapists, ergonomics experts, community workers, caregivers.
- Communications – is one area where robots cannot beat us. Social competency and emotional intelligence will still be important. Who will need skills: Sales, media, writers, artists, actors, comedians, musicians, entertainers, designers, life coaches, customer service, tourism operators, beauty therapists.
- Education – in a world moving at a pace and with change constant, we will need to keep learning. In fact, it will pertain to our very survival, and those that impart knowledge will become highly revered – as they are already in China and Japan. While we may learn through technology, in-class tutoring will still play a vital role in a world that is going to be harsh on those who don’t have the discipline and responsibility to take their education seriously. Who will need skills: Teachers, trainers, lecturers, business coaches.
- Business – this one ain’t gonna go away! With innovation in technology comes new products and opportunities for growth and entrepreneurship. No matter what field you’re in, understanding how business works is fundamental knowledge for success. Project teams, collaboration, finance and production processes are inherent in any economy. Who will need skills: Managers, business analysts, accountants, auditors, marketers, product managers and systems designers, trade specialists, entrepreneurs.
- Science – will influence everything from food to gadgets to space travel – every waking (and sleeping) moment will be dictated by the advancements in science and technology. From biotechnology, microbiology, manufacturing to just about every aspect of research into future life on earth, the range of opportunities for trained people will be vast. Who will need skills: Research scientists, food specialists, innovators, geologists and mining specialists, marine biologists, waste experts, information specialists, astronomers.
None of the above-mentioned skills are limited. In many ways, we don’t yet know how broad and diverse the opportunities may become. If you open your heart to own potential and deepest dreams, and analyse the possibilities of choice from the vast array that will be available beyond the revolution that is sucking away so many of traditional jobs of today, you will find extraordinary hope for the future and many exciting career paths.
Here at Redefining Success by Ayanda Mbanga, we want to help you to find those opportunities, and find the best way to achieve success. We’re here to help you define your strengths, your desires, and the kind of environment that will make you jump up in the morning to get to get to work! Don’t be a square peg in a round hole. What excites you and gives you joy can also light the path ahead to career that both contributes and satisfies.
Your career may be the most important choice you’ll ever have to make – as it may be with you for the rest of your life. So, whether you’re nearing matric, recently matriculated or graduated – or currently unemployed, or wanting to change your working experience – we have valuable information, advice, encouragement, mentoring, as well as CV interview tips, and a range of job opportunities waiting for you.
Here’s to a great 2018!