Monday, February 19, 2018

Future skills for work - NZ context

The NZ Heraldreported last week, that NZ education came up tops with regard to preparing people for the world of future skills. These skills include:

  • interdisciplinary skills
  • creative and analytical skills
  • entrepreneurial skills
  •  leadership skills
  • digital and technical skills and
  • global awareness and civic education.

We need to move from thinking about employability skills etc. to focus more on preparing people for being able to understand, navigate and survive the coming challenges wrought by AI and robotics on work – see one example Frey et al.

Many exponents of solutions promote the adoption of Universal Basic Income (UBI), including the current NZ government on 'the future of work' summarised in a previous blog. However, the UBI only goes part way. Individuals still need to be proactive and have the wherewithal to work out for themselves, their aspirations and carve a career 'pathway or trajectory' for themselves. The provision of UBI may be seen as a soft landing cushion for individuals seeking to or are forced to re-evaluate their work options

See two previous book reviews summarising the need for individuals to be assisted - Book by Gratton on the shift to the future of work and Thompson on 'smarter than you think'. Both, along with this paper by Dr. Gog Soon Joo, advocate for a shift in thinking from the current model of education to skills to employment to one which is centred more around the individual being prepared to take ownerships of their trajectory – the entrepreneur to professional to leader career.

Dr. Gog's context is Singapore, which is mentioned in two recent reports prepared by the World Economic Council on the future of work. The first report - future of work - accelerating workforce reskilling fro the fourth industrial revolution - features the Institute of Adult Learning (IAL) and the second report - a white paper on reskilling - uses the Skills Future as one of the case studies of a whole government initiative to provide citizens with information, incentives and advise on continual professional development.

With the Labour party forming the current government in NZ, some of the recommendations proposed from their future of work project, will no doubt inform some of the ways forward. Over the last five years, career pathways (see vocational pathways) and careers information through careers NZ (which was recently res-structured) have improved markedly. However, there is still a focus on the 'education to skills to employment' approach with some modicum of preparing the individual with skills to move their own career on - the role and agency of the individual, still needs to be made more overt though. See this 2011 paper by Vaughan on shifting the NZ system to enable individuals instead of concentrating on skills development. 

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