Go Back to School — or Go Obsolete

Its becoming clear that the jobs of the future have not been created yet. And trying to predict them is a futile exercise. Ten years ago, who would have imagined that jobs like ‘Uber driver’, “drone operator”, or “virtual reality producer” would have existed? The growing influence and efficacy of artificial intelligence, digitization and automation means that the pace of such change is getting faster and faster. Robots and machines are increasingly capable of doing what only humans could do a few years ago. We — the workers of today — will become obsolete much faster than our parents did. So how can you prepare for this world?

From “just in case” education to “just in time” education
You have to change the way you learn. Most education today is what some have described as ‘just in case’ education. You spend 4 years in college, completely disconnected from the real world, and your head is crammed with millions of facts, just “in case” some of these facts come in handy sometime in the future. But in reality, 90% of it never does. When I give talks to large audiences, I ask how many people in the audience are currently working in a career that is even remotely related to what they studied in college. The answer is never more than 10%. What you learn in college almost never translates into what you will do for the rest of your life. What you really need if you’re going to be ready for the world of tomorrow is to engage in what I’ll call “just in time” education.

How does “just in time education” work? In the world of ‘just in time’ (JIT) education you still go to a type of university. But three things are different:

1. It never ends. University used to be a one-shot game. You attended it for 4 years and the training you received was supposed to last for the next 40 years of your career. That may have worked 40 years ago. But in the JIT education world, you continue learning for your whole life. Through such lifelong learning, you keep reinventing yourself to stay relevant as the world changes.

2. It focuses far less on facts and figures and instead on learning how to learn. The aim is to make you extremely comfortable with change. The facts and figures you do come across are a means to an end, they are not the end. The ‘end’ is to for you to acquire a set of ‘meta-skills’ like how to work in teams, how to communicate, how to solve problems, how to analyze data, how to think critically, how to lead, and how to think entrepreneurially. These are the skills that will remain relevant even as the world changes.

3. It blurs the lines between “university” and “the real world”, enabling you to apply your learning to solve real problems for organizations and society from day one. You don’t go going away into a bubble for 2 years (for a graduate program) or 4 years (for an undergraduate program). Instead, you constantly rotate in and out of work and university so you are always connected with what is going on in the real world. In the JIT education world, you are taught not only by professors but also by practitioners with real — and recent — experience in the field.

This post originally appeared on Medium and was written by Fred Swaniker. Read the full article here.

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