“Anything that is routine or repetitive will be automated”

This warning was (again) discussed recently at a meeting of the World Economic Forum.

The future of work is going to look very different, as automation and Artificial Intelligence make many manual, repetitive jobs obsolete.

According to the McKinsey Global Institute, robots could replace 800 million jobs by 2030, while the World Economic Forum suggests a “skills revolution” could open up a raft of new opportunities.

“If we do not change the way we teach, 30 years from now, we’re going to be in trouble,” said Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba Group, China’s e-commerce giant.

The knowledge-based approach of “200 years ago”, would “fail our kids”, who would never be able to compete with machines. Children should be taught “soft skills” like independent thinking, values and team-work, he said.

The trend of replacing human labor with machines and technology is nothing new. Unfortunately, as Jack Ma discusses – mainstream education has stuck to old curricula and teaching methodologies for far too long.

“A teacher should learn all the time; a teacher should share all the time. Education is a big challenge now – if we do not change the way we teach thirty years later we will be in trouble.

“We cannot teach our kids to compete with the machines who are smarter – we have to teach our kids something unique. In this way, 30 years later, kids will have a chance.”

Teaching kids to memorize facts and figures with standardized testing being the barometer is totally outdated and obsolete methodology. Schools, teachers and parents need to recognize the new reality, and take dramatic steps to implement change to how our children are being educated. In order to re-design the programs, methods and system at-large, first the outcomes need to be adjusted.

At first, middle and upper class workers may not see an immediate risk to their own well-being, since the displacement of workers could start at lower-level type jobs that are more easily automated. However, technology will continue to replace more and more people who are doing all sorts of manual work.

So while the future of work and economy continues to change, one thing is clear – remaining viable and successful will require different skill sets than what our schools are teaching currently.

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