Are we preparing the next generation for the future?

An analysis of the latest PISA report (Programme for International Student Assessment) that assesses how 15 year olds in the OECD countries are faring in science, mathematics and language revealed that Singapore topped the list, in terms of working together – collaborative problem solving.

Increasingly, employers are looking for skills beyond what can be learnt in schools or colleges, but “soft skills” such as teamwork and data analysis

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Indeed, the sort of skills that was once needed in jobs across most sectors in the past or even currently, will gradually become obsolete as we move forward into the future.

In fact, the jobs that were present before, and are present now, might be phased out tomorrow.

Hence, there is the need to identify jobs and the suitable type of skills which are needed for those jobs quickly.

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report 2016 said that by 2020, one of the top three skills that workers will need is Creativity

“With the avalanche of new products, new technologies and new ways of working, [employees] are going to have to become more creative in order to benefit from these changes.”

In Singapore, the NTUC recently held a inaugural Future Jobs, Skills and Training Forum which saw attendees hearing from the managing director of the Economic Development Board and panelists from corporate management, labour movement and academics.

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(Credits: Chan Chun Sing Facebook)

One of the topics discussed during the forum was the fast-changing jobs and skills in today’s job market.

The panelists agreed during the discussions that workers need to develop soft skills such as problem-solving, adaptability and an open mind.

But how do you bridge the workers between the future jobs and the skills needed for those jobs?

That’s where training and lifelong learning comes in.

NTUC Secretary General Chan Chun Sing explained during the forum that it hopes to “rework the entire adult learning”.

He said that NTUC wants to develop “bite-sized training” which are “just-in-time”, where workers are able to retool themselves in a faster manner.

Change today is happening at a speed which is faster than before, hence, there is a real need for faster and shorter courses that allow workers to reskill within a shorter time.

Apart from that, perhaps businesses should also make it their business to develop the skills of their employees, so that both the employees and employers remain relevant and viable.

The former chief executive of Infosys, Vishal Sikka, wrote in the Financial Times, “Organisations also need to make life-long learning resources available for employees to enhance skills development. Indeed, they should be required to dedicate a percentage of their annual revenue to reskilling staff.”

After all that’s said and done, are we adequately preparing the next generation of workers and current workers for the jobs and skills of the future?

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Arthur Lee

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