Education systems are already lagging in our emergent digital lives. Our schools remain stuck in the industrial age. One in four adults already report a mismatch between the skills they possess and the skills they need for their job[i]. This is set to increase since an estimated 85 percent of employment roles in 2030 do not currently exist[ii]. This suggests that organisations that want to stay ahead of the talent curve will need to develop new talent pathways and establish new skills for employees appropriate for their changing roles. Indeed, some 62 percent of execs believe they will need to retrain or replace more than a quarter of their workforce between now and 2023[iii]
The impact on the education we provide for our children, how we teach, what we teach and where we teach will all need to change, but of equal import is the impact on the conception of education itself. It can no longer be a period that leads from childhood to workplace, since changes in the workplace are accelerating at such a rate that current workers will need to reskill, and often. Singapore is funding adult education in an attempt to induce voluntary, lifelong skills development in an attempt to address this.
Both disruption and innovation are imminent; whether it is perceived as an opportunity of threat will depend in part on just how strategic and digitally-savvy education and skills providers are. Since the half-life of skills is now reckoned to be around five years, and adults arguably less flexible than children when it comes to learning, an increasing focus on the individual is necessary. For example, 98 percent of students express a desire for more personalisation in the classroom, as opposed to automation, perhaps revealing a need for teachers’ time to be freed up[iv].
Automation of course, is one of the most obvious ways for achieving personalisation at scale. We can apply machine learning to neuroscience data we collect, or to more prosaic ‘…things such as logs of how many times students re-watch a portion of a video lecture or where they stumble or where they slow the lecture down to watch it more closely[v].’
New models will continue to appear – both in delivery and funding. The Minerva model of learning has attracted a lot of attention as has a Californian coding school that only charges students once they earn a $50,000 tech salary[vi]. This is likely just the start; futurist Thomas Frey suggests that the largest internet company of 2030 is likely to be an education based one. One thing is for sure; the longer core facets of education remain unchanged, the greater the disruption once it does.