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We need to learn skills that cannot be overtaken by machines, and these skills include creativity and entrepreneurship
One of the themes of the EduTECH conference in Brisbane earlier this year was that of the global job/skills mismatch.
In China alone there are 7 million graduates of universities annually, many of whom won't be working in the field they've trained in. For example there are thousands of Chinese graphic design graduates with no jobs.
In the US, there's a surplus of lawyers, yet people are still studying law. The ability for law firms to use the Internet for search has reduced their need for interns to trawl through masses of printed material.
And what about TAFE? Are we training people for jobs that won't exist by the time people graduate? There's always a risk that if you concentrate on a specific skill, especially if it's tied to an industry that can be affected by technology (which all are, basically), that the skill may become outdated, or taken over by machines.
Think of the impact on jobs of the ATM, or the automatic checkout at supermarkets. The driverless car is another example - if you can get in a car and have it take you somewhere and then drive away, what does this mean for the taxi industry, the car sales industry, the driving instructor industry, the car accessories industry - seemingly unrelated industries can be suddenly irrelevant. I used to save my files on a ZIP drive (a rapidly spinning floppy disk that could store up to 100MB of data) - at the time it was a revolution (no pun intended). However with the availability of cheaper external hard drives and Flash disks, the need disappeared almost overnight.
We need to learn skills that cannot be overtaken by machines, and these skills include creativity and entrepreneurship - the people who succeed will be those who can adapt to the needs of the future. And this may mean creating their own jobs.
In Digital Media we're often asked "Do you use MAC or PC? Version 6 of Photoshop or version 5 of Illustrator?". It shouldn't matter. We're teaching people to use Digital Media, and they should be able to use and adapt to whatever tools are or will become available in the future. And if the need for screen-based Digital Media ceases to exist? Well then hopefully our students will be able to use their skills to create new fields in new areas - be true job creators.
Because the jobs we may be working at in five years time may not have even been thought of yet.
To quote Larry Johnson, head of the New Media Consortium, which produces the annual Horizon Report looking at future trends in technology for education: "We are developing strategies for a world that no longer exists".
Let's hope that the strategies we teach and learn will be able to equip us for any world that may exist.