As part of the so-called “millennial generation” we have experienced an unprecedented acceleration in the use of technology. It is no longer possible to consider personal and professional lives without the Internet, smartphones, computers, geolocation devices, among others. Technology is omnipresent. It has changed our lifestyles, habits, perceptions and interactions with others.

Due to technology and globalization, today´s world configuration is by far more complex than it was in the past. Despite technological advances, social development, inequality and poverty are still at the epicenter of the biggest challenges facing us today and in the future. With intercontinental connections stronger than ever, yet with 200 million unemployed individuals, 757 million adults and 115 million youths who cannot read or write (UNESCO) and an increase in global migration, our basic concepts of employment and education need to be adjusted to our modern reality.

This demands that we be analytical about and aware of the concerns that the use of technology and globalization bring us. Otherwise, humanity will be overwhelmed with future challenges in employment and education. 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:

  • The need for quality education and increased mobility. Including why enhancing skills, knowledge and competences cannot be neglected. As well as emphasizing that quality education is a continuous process that does not end at education institutions.
  • The importance of getting a job that covers more than just basic needs. Statistics on unemployment rates demonstrate that we need to redefine the current model to attain success in this area

Towards a quality education & more mobility.

 Past generations used to compete at the local level. However, as Andrew Mack, Principal at AMGlobal, notes “Today´s world is substantially more competitive” and tomorrow´s world is going to be even more. With more and more people joining the job market, especially youth, the question is: are they being educated and trained to transition from higher education institutions to the workforce?

In a globalized world, employers expect a diverse set of skills from employees, such as critical-thinking, leadership, global experience, and awareness and appreciation of other cultures. According to Edith Cecil, Vice President at the Institute of International Education (IIE), global student mobility increase competitiveness, meaning “it is critical” to study abroad or get some kind of overseas experience. Whether physical or virtual cross-cultural experiences can boost and individuals’ chances of finding their first job and help to keep it over a 5-year period of time (Edith Cecil, IIE). Global education allows individuals to better compete in the job market.

Enhancing skills, knowledge and competences cannot be neglected

A Gallup survey conducted by education experts from over 149 different countries, shows that more than 70% of them are unsatisfied with the education system in their countries. So, it is not surprising that the current education system is not proving students with the knowledge and skills required to contribute to the today’s workforce.

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”. Based on what human resources professionals have said, the workforce must have critical-thinking skills. In addition, 93% of businesses and nonprofits leaders add that good communication and complex problem-solving skills are important. O’Donnell insists that the development of those skills starts from kinder garden and should not wait until high school or college to be taught.

Good quality education is interdisciplinary; all subjects are interconnected and interdependent. As our world is interdisciplinary as well, “it requires that we not only give to students problems to solve” (O’Donnell, Smithsonian) but instead, they need to know how to identify problems to be solved. In this way, they will be able to think critically about the world around them.

In addition, languages are also a valuable skill; useful to operating in a multicultural work environment, and to better understanding cultural nuances. Furthermore computer programming can be considered as important as proficiency in other language or any other subject at school. Brandon Busteed, Executive Director of Education & Workforce Development at Gallup, referring to a Gallup survey cited that: “over 70% of the students, teachers and parents agree that computer science and programing is as important or more so than any other course subject taught at school

Quality education in the classroom is not the only element in the equation of getting a good job

As education is a continuous process and does not stop when one graduates from school, public and private entities should be engaged in providing solutions that allow “people to understand how the world is changing” (Larry Quinlan, CIO of Deloitte). I particular, companies should consider new approaches. As Mack (AMGlobal) argues for a model “not based in preparing young adults to join our way of work that values age and experience, instead we will need a new dynamic that values […] energy and […] attributes”.

 For Edith Cecil (IIE) “companies cannot afford to not have a big global education strategy”. Nevertheless, the status quo is still far from the ideal. The CEO of Burberry, Fumbi Chima, recognizes that there exists a major gap in the workplace. While hiring “we are unrealistic, technology changes (constantly and) we have this expectations with […] young graduates coming in, to say here are the competencies we need you to do”.

Larry Quinlan, CEO of Deloitte, believes that lifelong and experimental learning can best be provided by companies. In his opinion, we need more partnerships between companies and education institutions. He insists that companies should invest in education, through either corporate investment in education itself or human capital investment.

Chima and Quilan are right; companies need to closely collaborate with educational institutions and work together to teach and to train students on how to apply the knowledge acquired in the classroom. According to a Gallup survey, experts identify the preparation of students for the workplace as one of the main global gaps in education and jobs. Strengthening cooperation between public and private stakeholders to offer more jobs and internships during higher education “working while learning” as well as more project-based learning that can be applied in real life scenario are steps than can improve our current education system (Busteed, Gallup).

Jobs that not only cover basic needs

The current global joblessness is 5.9% according to the ILO and 40% of the world’s unemployment are youth (Mack, AMGlobal). This is significant, since we are expecting a large influx of job applicants in the near future. By 2025, in just under 10 years, we will experience 25 millions new job seekers in just one country, Nigeria.

These numbers demonstrate that the current system is not creating equal opportunities for everyone. Jobs seekers should be able to obtain employment that not only satisfices their basic needs, but also allows them to actively participate in the so-called “sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth” (UNGA Resolution 70/1).

Jobs and education seem to be the “perfect duo” at the fundamental level to combat poverty and hunger and produce economic growth. However, we have to figure out real strategies to guarantee that everyone has equal access to quality education and good jobs so that “no one is left behind” (UN’s sustainable goals). As we are not fulfilling that statement now, can we be confident that we will be able to by 2050?

(Image credit: ESA)