#2050 Jobs: Future Challenges

(This article was first published at the Diplomatic Courier on February 22nd, 2016
Written by Asmaa AbuMezied, Imran Newaz Khurshid, and Niza Castaneda, Atlas Corps Fellows)

As part of the so-called “millennial generation” we have experienced an unprecedented use of technology. Technology is omnipresent. Revolutionary technologies such as artificial intelligence, 3D printing, robotics, biotechnology, etc., are changing our lives in a rapidly accelerating pace. It is no longer possible to consider personal and professional lives without the Internet, smartphones, computers, and geolocation devices, among others.

Due to technology and globalization, today´s world configuration is by far more complex than it was in the past. The Fourth Industrial Revolution and the disruptive technological changes accompanied with socio-economic, geopolitical and demographic developments are changing the employment and talent landscape. Fortunately, these topics have been placed at the forefront of dialogues across the globe. In particular, the Diplomatic Courier examined “The Future of Jobs and Education” by 2050, during the 3rd annual Global Talent Summit in January of 2016. Speakers and panelists discussed the nexus between those topics, with highlights including:

  • Why enhancing skills, knowledge, and competences cannot be neglected.
  • The importance of getting a job that covers more than just basic needs.
  • The education challenge.

Why enhancing skills, knowledge and competence cannot be neglected.

If there is a ‘constant’ thing, it is only ‘change.’ Thinking about future jobs and requirements of creating them compels ways of equipping youths with compatibility and skills needed to overcome challenges that are not there yet! However, one has to be cautious when talking about skills; for example, critical thinking skills is among the highly demanded skills in the labor market, but can we really define what critical thinking is?  This is a question asked by Brandon Busteed, the Executive Director of Education and Workforce Development at Gallup.  The question triggered a discussion about how the definitions of certain soft skills and their requirement can vary over time and place.

It is fundamental to focus on building skills early on from Kindergarten as expressed by Carol O’Donnell, Director of the Smithsonian Science Education Center affirms. O’Donnell, pointed out the importance of developing student’s ability to identity problems rather than handling them only. For example, Smithsonian is one of those schools which focuses on project-based learning and Hands-on experience. Through participating in student-centered classroom the students not only learn about critical thinking skills but also other important soft skills such as problem-solving skills, teamwork, and communication skills, etc.

The pressure of acknowledging skills, knowledge, and competence is unprecedented as the world become more globalized. Corporations value a diverse set of skills, awareness and exposure to different cultures, global experiences, and education. Edith Cecil, the Vice President of Institute of International Education, expressed concerns regarding the U.S. students’ inability to prepare themselves to the global market due to their lack of global experience. There is a prominence of global education and overseas experiences as global students’ mobility increase competitiveness.

Jobs that cover more than just basic needs

Global joblessness is 5.9% (ILO data). 40% of world’s unemployment is unemployed youth. By 2025, in just under 10 years, we will experience 25 million new job seekers in just one country, Nigeria (Andrew Mack, AMGlobal). The technological changes of the Fourth Industrial Revolution will change the job nature, ways of job searching and employment trends. “The Future of Jobs” report by the World Economic Forum 2016, highlighted job losses in industries and job families such as office and administrative, manufacturing and production and construction and extraction. At the same time, new jobs and skills will be created in business and financial operations, management, computer and mathematical, architecture and engineering and sales.

Job seekers’ needs are not limited to basic requirement anymore; as they look for jobs that provide purpose, prospects of development and meaning (Jim Clifton, CEO of Gallup).  Clifton, embrace the idea of entrepreneurship as a solution of the change in job nature. However, such solution doesn’t capture the complexity of creating such jobs that would still provide equal opportunities to everyone. The challenge here is to encourage recruiters to see beyond the pre-designed molds of what constitute a “good typical employee.”

Andrew Mack, founder of AMGlobal, emphasizes the need for structural changes where youth drive, energy and creativity is truly appreciated otherwise the result would be employee disengagement. In the U.S. 68% of the employees are either not engaged or actively disengaged (Gallup, 2015). Furthermore, companies need to reconsider their inclusiveness and diversity approaches; according to the “Future of Jobs” report, technology and data analytics could be useful tools to advance workforce parity.

The education challenge

The current state of education system has been highlighted as a great challenge in many conferences and platforms locally and globally. A Gallup survey for WISE experts from over 140 countries shows that 75% of them expressed dissatisfaction with their countries’ education system, its inability to be innovative and inability to prepare students for the future job market. This reflects the prevalent education system’s inability to provide students with the knowledge and skills required to fit in the work market.

In this sense, education is not a domestic matter, as Carol O’Donnell, Director of the Smithsonian Science Education Center notes, “Education is a global effort.” Consequently, serious and continuous calls for reforming education to cope with the coming technological revolution were released in the Global Talent Summit 2016 and the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2016. “Companies cannot afford to not have a big global education strategy” (Edith Cecil, IIE), for that reason, public and private entities should be engaged to provide solutions in order to allow “people to understand how the world is changing” (Larry Quinlan, CIO, Deloitte).

A call for more partnerships between companies and education institutions through either corporate investment or human capital investment was stressed by Larry Quinlan, CEO of Deloitte. With such a call, the main question is “How can governments, educators, employers and businesses collaborate to harness the future technical revolution opportunities and prepare for its challenges and how can we actively involve education institutions in this conversation?”Jobs-of-the-Future-11