20 Nov Technology, the frenemy of tomorrow’s workforce
Technological change seems to occur at the speed of light. As one technical innovation develops, another is just beginning. It can be extremely difficult to keep up, even for those twenty-something millennials who seem to have the advantage on Generation X.
Yet as more and more jobs are absorbed by technology, young people are struggling to find employment. And if this is the case for Generation Y, what will the job market be like for Generation Z?
In a recent report by the World Economic Forum, persistent jobless growth was rated globally as the second highest concern. Larry Summers, former US treasury secretary, placed responsibility on the education sector to “meet the needs of this age.” He warned that if current trends continue then whole sections of society will find their standards of living going backwards.
Of course, it’s important to remember that doom and gloom shifts newspapers. While it’s inevitable that jobs will be lost to technology, this is not to say that new opportunities are not already cropping up in their place.
From manufacturing through to media, developments in technology are opening up a raft of new opportunities. Even the PR and marketing industry has seen a seismic change in job roles to keep pace with the exciting possibilities around social media.
Getting ready for work
The best safeguard against being replaced by technology is knowing how to use it. If we want today’s students to enjoy a brighter future, we need to make sure that they go into the workplace fully able to use technology to maximum effect.
Why not start implementing curriculums that prepare for certain roles, such as digital marketers, social media managers and software engineers. Why not include blogging in English lessons? What about robotic engineering in Design Technology? What about getting schools to start trading with one another? The possibilities to digitise the workforce of tomorrow are endless.
The UK’s Year of Code is one of many signs that reform has already started. Including a new initiative to train teachers in software coding, it’s hoped that the scheme will encourage these new skills within the classroom and, further down the line, technology entrepreneurship. In fact, the government has ordered that HTML coding become a compulsory topic covered for every child aged 5 – 16 years old.
There’s also a growing network of University Technical Colleges (UTCs), government-funded schools that teach students technical and scientific subjects, educating the inventors, engineers, scientists and technicians of tomorrow. Perhaps more schools should take a leaf out of their book.
In a study by Deloitte, 84% of London businesses said the skill set of their employees will need to adapt over the next decade. Expertise such as ‘digital know-how, ‘management’ and ‘creativity’ were most desirable. Indeed, at 634th in the list of careers most likely to be overtaken by technology we like to tell ourselves in the PR industry that we’ll be completely fine, at least for the foreseeable future.
The truth is that whether we’re young or old, the demands of today’s workplace mean we all need to keep up-to-date on how to make best use of the technological advancements of the 21st century.
What are your thoughts about technology and the job market? Are we prepared? What can we do to give children the best hope of a successful career in the future?