Three dumb questions to ask a 15 year old: 1. Can you please put your phone down for just five minutes? 2. Do you really need to see your friends this weekend? 3. What do you want to do when you leave school?
Of all these questions, the last one is the most problematic. Unlike the first two questions, the third question - what do you want to do when you leave school - is almost impossible for our teens to answer. This is because artificial intelligence (AI) and globalisation are impacting so significantly on jobs that it's almost impossible to predict what the future workforce might look like.
What we do know, thanks mostly to innovative research being conducted by the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA), is that young people graduating now are likely to work in 17 different jobs – many yet unknown and unknowable - across 5 careers, through a working life of 60 to 70 years.
In May the JR McKenzie Trust and the Ministry of Youth Development partnered to offer a presentation on The New Work Order by Jan Owen from the FYA. Their research shows that a new work order is arriving – fast. The world of work is in a massive transition to an ever more global, technology driven, flexible economy in which whole professions are being altered, new professions are coming into existence, and traditional jobs are being swallowed by automation.
The role of education in preparing our young people to meet the unknowable future is huge. Yet we are, as Ken Robinson says, using an outmoded industrial educational system to prepare our young people for a rapidly changing future.
Projects such as those funded by Connecting Education and Communities have a crucial role in helping communities and their education providers to become more responsive to the educational needs of young people and their whānau. To do this, we support each CEC project to ensure active and authentic participation from the target groups so that activities are responsive to the aspirations of whānau, hapu, iwi. We believe that by doing this communities will be increasingly recognised as important partners in improving education.
What we want to see, ideally, (and with reference again to Ken Robinson) is communities and education providers taking a highly personalised, organic approach that draws on technological and professional resources to engage all students, develop their love of learning, and enable them to face the real challenges of the twenty-first century.