The world in the information age has shaped and reshaped how we learn and how we work, our need to adapt and our need to respond in a fraction of time compared to even a decade ago. The Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) has provided much research around the changing nature of work, careers and the many careers the youth of today will experience over the course of their life, as well as the skills required.
In an article I recently read by Dr Vikram Mansharamani, a Harvard University lecturer and global trend-watcher who helps others anticipate the future, manage risk, and spot opportunities, he talks about the growing utility of being a ‘generalist’ rather than a specialist in the world of work.
Employers and businesses have traditionally sought employees who are ‘specialists’ in their field. Society has held people who specialise in an area and have sound knowledge of that area in high regard. There will always be a need for specialists, however, Dr Mansharamani’s article suggests that the future is likely to be one with a need for more generalists in it.
If we have learnt anything from this pandemic it is our need to synthesise and respond to information quickly as well as communicate and reimagine our environment and the way we work in order to succeed, or indeed survive. With many industries adversely affected and the challenges we face in rebuilding the economy, it makes sense that discourse has turned to future employment, career opportunities and the skills required for all of us, and most importantly, for our students.
Our students should be delivered a broad curriculum, challenged and nurtured in developing depth of understanding as well as capabilities in a range of ways of thinking and operating. To be problem solvers, researchers, public speakers and persuasive writers. To lead and work in teams, to be flexible, to be reflective, and to be allowed to fail, to get up and to try again. Ultimately not to be limited by the borders of a profession, but to be someone who can look beyond, be a lateral thinker if you like.
Multi-functionality, diversity of experience, and the ability to embrace the rapidly changing requirements of a modern workforce will be attributes sought by employers. Increasing job opportunities and bolstering the economy will require us to be more broadminded, flexible and adaptable.
As educators, we must prepare our girls to be ready for whatever future presents them, and in some small way, our foray into remote learning provided a window for our girls to showcase how they could be adaptable and flexible. Not for us to see, but for them to see how readily they could respond and thrive in uncertain and unpredictable times. A foresight into their capacity and readiness for the world in which they live and will soon work.
Ms Rachael Falloon