The threat of a global pandemic, market volatility and the undeniable impacts of climate change have rocked the collective psychology in recent weeks.
While we humans on the planet grapple with how to deal with these unprecedented crises, the Next Generation watch on – waiting, wondering – what sort of future crises they will inherit or face? And when they inevitably do, the question is – will they be ready?
The answer really depends on how we educate today’s students for tomorrow.
Globally, leaders, educators and industry agree that Education 4.0 design and delivery needs to hurry up and move toward a multi-disciplinary model based on real-life problem solving, greater learner autonomy and flexibility, and the development of lifelong learner core competencies in technical, creative and employability skills to meet Industry 4.0 needs.
But to do this in Australia, we need more big thinkers, ‘outside the box’ disruptors and education game-changers to dare to imagine what the classrooms of the future and a wholesale system transformation could look like in teaching and learning design.
We spend a lot of time with young people through our work with girledworld and Future Amp, trying to help them build real-world understandings and employability skills and connections with career and industry role models.
So I recently chatted to s p a c e (see below) about reimagining the role of education, the rise of soft skills, and why we need the Next Gen to take Australia forward.
“I’m passionate about transforming education, particularly in response to the STEM and soft skills shortage we see Australia facing.
By 2030, we know that two-thirds of jobs in Australia will be soft skill-intensive, and that the skill deficit is going to hit about 29 million.
So there are some critical structural changes that need to occur in our education systems (and labour market) to double down on the development of these critical human skills so we can meet the demands of Industry 4.0 and Australia’s economic, societal and cultural imperatives. Lifelong learning is fundamental to the health of our national economy.
Couple this with the fact that research shows STEM will fuel about 75% of jobs of the future, and yet we still see a chronic and sustained underrepresentation of women (and girls) globally in these study disciplines, and in the STEM job market overall.
It’s a huge problem, a widening gap, and unless there is a critical intervention, women (and the girls after them) will continue to be left behind, economically disempowered and unable to fully participate in the jobs and industries of the future.
Through our award-winning education startup Girledworld we’ve set out to tackle that problem, and since launching through The University of Melbourne’s Master of Entrepreneurship in 2016, have to date reached over 30,000 female students (secondary and tertiary) to give them access to outstanding industry mentors, employability (soft) skills and career pathways, and we continue to work collaboratively to try and bridge the gap between government, industry and education.
It’s about systems change – about fundamentally addressing and recalibrating the components and structures that cause the education system to behave in a certain way. So it will take the collective to work together to reimagine and redesign what Education 4.0 could look like for Australia in 2050.
Our vision is to scale our reach to create the Next Gen of entrepreneurs, innovators and STEM leaders who can take Australia forward, build the industries and engines of our new economy, and revitalise our culture.
Later this year we’re launching Future Amp, a global career education technology platform which connects students to the real world of work, industry mentors, micro-credentials, virtual work experience and the critical soft skills they will need in the new global marketplace.
In a rapidly shifting, automated, globalised workforce, Future Amp brings the best of e-learning and world-leading interactive career education to students to inform and equip them with the real-world knowledge and windows to the future of work they need to successfully transition from education to employment pathways. Future Amp is being piloted in prototype through the University of Melbourne’s InnovatEd Program.
It’s challenging work, and we have lots of product testing and learning and validation to do, but it’s a total privilege to work with – and constantly learn from – the next generation.
I’m blown away by how capable, curious, energetic and endlessly creative students are.
When we present them with a real-world industry challenge, they can cut straight to the heart of that problem and see it in a way that adults don’t. Their world view is different, they’re not as susceptible to group think and they have a breathtaking bias to action!
Young people today also have a completely different context and take on where we’re at as a species, and as a planet. There’s an urgency about the world and sorts of problems they’re inheriting. And the clear message they’re sending is that Australia needs to lift its game.
We need to take Australia forward into a new economic and climatic era. And that starts with facing the realities of a changing global marketplace, the challenges of climate change and whatever else the planet has in store for us…
Everything starts with an idea.
So we need to break out of our education echo chambers, engage the next generation in the redesign of Education 4.0, and collectively ask ourselves how we can live better, learn better, work better – and human better.
To read more perspectives and thoughts on how we transform education see this recent article from s p a c e with views from Aqeel Camal, Tony Farley, Roy Page, Matthew Blanch, Adriano Di Prato and others.
ABOUT s p a c e
s p a c e is building a collective of unlike-minds with a passion for making a more ambitious Australia (and world).
Our aim is to gather diverse sets of people to challenge points-of-view and unlock new insights on old perspectives. We’re not here to agree on everything, we’re not here to learn or to network. We’re here to get shit done. To move Australia forward at an exponential rate of change, powered by the most inspiring minds in the country.
There are no spectators and no speakers at s p a c e, making the fully immersive experience completely participatory. s p a c e cadets bring an open mind and a willingness to share what’s on it, ensuring their brain and ideas be active for the full three days.
Disconnecting in one of the most inspiring places on earth, immersing in conversations with strangers, agitators and restless activators, and exploring existing ideas in different contexts, s p a c e is an event designed for the conceptual age.