THE BLOG
12/07/2018 12:12 SAST | Updated 12/07/2018 12:12 SAST

We Need To Equip Kids For The Future Of Work In The Digital Age

'If we delve deeper into the seemingly widening gap between human interaction and artificial intellect, our key will be emotional intelligence.'

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The technological revolution hit us fast and left us whirling. Or more aptly, digital. We've become proficient in communicating with ten people at once, keeping up with the office politics and ordering household items; and all of this from the comfort of our chair.

Perhaps even more wondrous, is the development of the artificial intelligence revolution. I must confess not to know much about it. Talks of robots and clones make me think of sci-fi, a genre that never was my cup of tea. I was always more of a drama or rom-com gal.

Perhaps it's because sci-fi seems so intangible, unrealistic. Far removed. I can't relate to it and it definitely doesn't dredge up the same level of emotions that a dramatic real-life scenario, that is all too familiar, does. Ironically, as the saying goes: the future is now!

Sci-fi, robots, clones, mind readers (or is that just my own hopeful invention?) are becoming ever more relevant. Of course, this raises the question of "Well, what happens to humans then? What about jobs? Do we become irrelevant and not needed?"

I think the most important question should always be: and what of our children? How do we train them to be ready for a future of robots that will take care of our every need and demand? (Again, more wishful thinking.)

If we delve deeper into the seemingly widening gap between human interaction and artificial intellect, our key will be emotional intelligence. While robots and mind readers are a fantastic creation, and can certainly rid us of menial tasks around the home or office and most definitely in factories, the lack of emotive connection is gaping.

The office life of the future might be filled with robots at desks completing the complex tasks of data input, or at factory line ups building car parts, but the core job of creativity, emotional connection, reaching the consumer and social interactions, will be wide open for humans.

Perhaps it's time to start educating our children for the future. For the jobs that they will be interviewed for. Jobs where maths skills and memorisation won't be vital, because hey, we've got robots for that.

It will demand that we are ready to have inter-office social capabilities, working alongside others, brainstorming together, pushing each other to think out of the box. It might entail sitting on bean bags in a circle on the floor, sipping cocktails and discovering deeper connections between ourselves. (I know, I'm taking my wishful thinking a little too far.)

Or it might be a rigorous soccer game outdoors to help with team building and encourage creativity flow. Regardless of the method, the future will demand of us to be quirky, to see how creative and original we can be, and how far out of our comfort zone we can push ourselves, because that is what will add value to a digital robotic environment.

If we look at our current classrooms, (sans a few incredibly select ones that are definitely the classrooms of the future!), we are stuck in an industrial-revolution set up. Yes, we might have added some digital revolution in the mix, bringing iPads and computers in to help our learning. We might have even added coding classes. But our key goal is the revision of information, memorising details, completing complex math equations. All things robotic.

In truth, the addition of technology into the classroom should have happened 10 years ago. All those university graduates who are unemployed might be slightly better off. But in 10 years time, we might have actual robots doing all the above, and they'll be a lot cheaper and easier to deal with than human robots.

Perhaps it's time to start educating our children for the future. For the jobs that they will be interviewed for. Jobs where maths skills and memorisation won't be vital, because hey, we've got robots for that. It will be jobs where questions like "What is the best invention you can think of, and how would you go about creating it?" are asked, or: "How do you feel about working in an open plan with five people at the same table?," followed by: "How would you rate your social interactions?"

We need to create classrooms that push our children to socialise and think creatively. We need to teach our children to trust themselves, to think independently, so that they can work interactively. Otherwise, we are just creating more human robots, and that is a greater cost than any electronic robot will ever be.