The new world of work

By Greg Whitby, 31 October 2018

Weekly Column from the Executive Director of Schools, Diocese of Parramatta

Try and imagine the world in about five years from now. Your car is automated and you have a smart home that knows when to boil the jug so that you can have a hot cup of tea ready for you when you walk in the door. This is the world of artificial intelligence (AI) and ‘machine learning’. We already know that traditional careers are changing dramatically. In the new world of work, your local electrician will also be required to fix the smart devices connected in your smart home and the most important tool in a mechanic’s toolbox will be a diagnostic computer rather than a spanner.

AI refers to technologies that can perform tasks that humans can do such as driving vehicles. Machine learning is the ability of technologies to learn from data and respond adaptively. It’s likely that almost 30-40 percent of current jobs will be transformed by AI and machine learning by 2030.

All of this is important for parents and schools. Gone will be the days of having a job for life. Changing technology means that skills will be needed for a rapidly changing world. These include courage, resilience problem-solving and being able to communicate across different cultures. Success in the workplace will be determined by how a person can respond to new problems, work in different ways and use new technologies.

The current model of schooling has done a good job at preparing students for one career. The world has changed and continues to change. The focus now needs to be less on content and more on skills and competencies like digital literacy and entrepreneurship. That doesn’t mean throwing out Maths and English. It does mean that schools need to recognise that today’s learners will not be prepared for this new world of work if we keep using the old models of schooling.

Many senior students that I speak to are already gaining these skills outside of the school environment. The risk for schools is that they will become redundant if they continue to fact-drill today’s learners rather than up-skill them.

Greg Whitby

Executive Director of Schools – Diocese of Parramatta


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