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Nov 30, 2016 01:15 AM EST

21st Century Skills for 21st Century Learners


Digital technologies are displacing more and more jobs. This results to a transition of work based skills. Uber, TurboTax, Legal Zoom, Grab, Airbnb and other apps and software have influenced lots of professions. Retail store positions are eliminated by online shopping. There is the great possibility of taxi, trucking, express delivery, and aviation jobs that can be replaced with self-driving vehicles.

In a commentary in Forbes, if trends will be based on history, the technologies that will eliminate one group of tasks will create others. These are jobs that need twenty-first century or digital skills. It sounds great but the pervading question is on the preparedness of young people for these new, higher skilled jobs that are leading this generation to the fourth industrial revolution.

It is disheartening to assess the preparedness of American schools in terms of keeping up with these technological advances. A mere 20% of teachers report that the internet connections of schools meet their teaching requirements. Schools do not have enough 3D printers, robotic labs, code writing sources, and others.

America is not the sole country faced with this challenge. Schools in England are also not prepared to educate school children for the digital age even though an estimated 15 million jobs are on the brink of non-existence.

Lord Kenneth Baker, Chairperson of Edge Foundation, emphasizes that the future workforce of England will required technical expertise in the fields of design and computing in addition to skills unreplaceable by robots that include empathy, flexibility, enterprise, and creativity.

These subjects are not included in U.K.'s mainstream schools core curriculum. Thus, Lord Baker and his colleagues proposed The Digital Revolution that includes some of the plan. These include equipping primary schools with 3D printers and design software, bringing in outside experts to teach coding in primary schools, and teach all students entrepreneurship and link their schools with local employers.

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