In the past, I have tried to shy away from writing strictly warm and fuzzy pieces. I mean, don't we have enough stories in the news about how cute cats and babies play together on Youtube? As well, we need to address many of the issues that the Industrial Internet revolution may cause, if we want to have an easy time making the transition.
One of the overwhelming concerns about this new wave of technology, as well as with Artificial intelligence / Big Data / 3D printing is how it will make many jobs obsolete. This is far from the first time that technology has done so (do you know anyone who installs caps onto toothpaste containers like Charlie's dad in the Willy Wonka stories anymore), but it will definitely be the widest impact that we have ever seen.
The question is....what are we doing to prepare people for this change?
Well, at least the World Economic Forum is opening up the discussion. The WEF has made this topic the focal point of its annual meeting which is happening now in Davos. While I can't imagine that we will see any miraculous decisions made over wine and cheese, it is good to see the conversation starting...
I read an interesting story this morning about how people were still using antiquated methods of warming up their cars during cold winter mornings as it is "just the way we have always done it". I suspect this is a similar thinking used in our model of education.
We need to start to move the focus towards training people in areas where there will definitely still be jobs 10-20 years from now. An example is a Legal researcher, where the vast majority of jobs are moving towards automated solutions. Do we need to graduate people into this type of position if we are certain that most jobs will be eliminated?
Instead, we need to take a play from one of my childhood heroes, Wayne Gretzky. One of the main reasons for his success was not his physical size, but rather his ability to know where the play was going before any else did. We need to start to move student's education towards areas such as Data Analysis, engineering/design and programming.
I was pleased by a recent announcement in British Columbia that said that going forward, all students as young as in Kindergarten will be exposed to computer programming. This is only a small step, but we all need to start somewhere.
We need to stop feeling helpless in this situation and start to be more proactive. We need to make sure that we have skills training programs in place before millions of people lose their jobs. Just because we have always done something a certain way, it does not mean that we should do it that way in the future. Starting kids young down this path will pay huge dividends for educational systems that "go where the puck is going to be before it gets there".