Image: REUTERS/Jason Reed
Welcome to The Future Learning Project's second post, and this week we are exploring a range of articles at the intersection of learning, exponential technologies and disruptive innovation. Please do share your thoughts and opinions with us.
We start with a New York Times article (via The Exponential View) about how Sweden looks well positioned to manage the transition to automation in its economy. Automation is viewed as allowing companies to do more (ie increase efficiency and output) with the people they already have, with the mining sector the example used here. The Swedish government and workers' unions collaborate to ensure a living wage and training programmes are in place for transitioning workers, and the the comprehensive social safety net in place appears to allow innovation and entrepreneurship to flourish.
However, tensions exist. The recent influx of new immigrants from war-torn countries, many with only a basic education and not yet employable, has placed strain on a system that relies on taxes of up to 60% to sustain it. For the Swedish model to work, the social contract must remain strong. It will be interesting to follow this over the coming decades, to see what new challenges and opportunities emerge.
More from the World Economic Forum (WEF) this week, in consultation with The Boston Consulting Group. This report looks at projected structural changes in the US job market by 2026, identifies 'good fit' transition opportunities for workers and potential pathways as jobs become disrupted. The change is significant, but the opportunities will exist for those who are prepared:
"... what will be required is nothing less than a societal mindset shift for people to become creative, curious, agile lifelong learners, comfortable with continuous change."
We have to change the way students learn in schools. People's jobs will depend on it. It's that simple.
With the Netflix experience as one example, this article (also from the WEF) examines how growth and business complexity have been transformed in the age of rapid disruption. Traditional top-down management structures, methods and incremental improvements have no place when dealing with the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) of the modern business world.
Dealing with uncertainty, design thinking, contextual awareness, a multidisciplinary approach - this is the new language and reality of business and work. Does the way our children learn currently reflect and prepare them for this?
This is a powerful report from McKinsey & Company using interactive graphics to demonstrate how automation and AI will improve productivity (on a 2030 timeframe), but lead to widespread job losses along with repositioning of work. The potential impact varies by occupation, sector and location, with some sectors not projected to lose jobs due to humans being retrained for new roles once machines take over.
The report concludes by noting that despite the upcoming shift, investment to support the workforce and the change that is coming is decreasing, stating that "Educational models have not fundamentally changed in 100 years. It is now critical to reverse these trends, with governments making workforce transitions and job creation a more urgent priority."
Should we reply on governments to make this change, or should it start with us? Is education and learning ripe for disruption?
At The Future Learning Project, we often talk about the power of collaboration and building effective teams. However this article reminds us that collaboration may not always be in an individual's or organisation's best interests if the desired outcome is improved creativity. Some people work well collaboratively and creatively, others do not, and that's why learning needs to be responsive to needs and strengths.
Collaboration at all costs is not a balanced approached to learning or business.
Please don't forget to comment on our articles and posts - we want to share ideas, critical thought and constructive feedback.