Educating for the 21st Century

Educating for the 21st Century

September 12, 2019 33 By Ronny Jaskolski


There is a rapid rise in the demand for new
skills. In fact, we see that at the individual levels and we see this at aggregate levels.
There’s a growing gap between employment and labor market prospects of people who are highly
skilled and people at the low end of the skill spectrum. Skills determine more and more how
the benefits of economic growth are shared in societies. The success of companies today
depends on nothing more than on the talent pool which they recruit. Seventy percent of
productivity gains have been driven by improvements in the skill base. So there is a dramatically
rising demand for better skilled people. At the very same time we also see that in
some countries there are many graduates unemployed on the street, while employers say they cannot
find the people with the skills they need. So there is an emerging mismatch between the
kind of talent that is being developed and the talent that is really needed. In fact,
one of the things that our data shows is that some of the skills that are easiest to teach
and easiest to test are also the kind of skills that are easiest to digitize, automate, and
outsource. So that’s a big challenge for the education industry today to think about “What
are the kind of twenty-first century skills that will enable people?”
In the past you could assume, as a teacher, you would teach someone for their lifetime
what you learn is school is going to last for many, many years. Today that’s no longer
the case. Today we need to educate people for jobs that have not been created, to use
technologies that haven’t been invented, to solve social and economic problems that we
don’t have any idea are gonna arise. This is the fundamental challenge for education.
And that requires a very different caliber of teachers. Teachers who are not just reproducing
educating the reproduction of subject matter content but to help young people to extrapolate
from what they know, to use and apply their knowledge in novel situations. In a nutshell,
the world economy no longer pays you for what you know. Google knows everything.
The world economy pays you for what you can do with what you know and that requires a
very different caliber of teachers and a very different pedagogy — twenty-first century
pedagogy — a very different relationship between teachers and students. Technology
is part of this. Today it’s hard to explain why you should accept the teacher next door
if you can’t have access to the world’s best knowledge anywhere. We’re seeing an unbundling
of educational content, educational delivery and accreditation with people anywhere drawing
on the world’s best knowledge at any time. We are seeing governments putting greater
emphasis on evaluating outcomes, on quality assurance, on setting standards. And the business
sector actually being a lot more engaged in helping educational systems figure out where
is labor demand evolving. What are the kind of skills that will be at a premium tomorrow.
The business sector is playing a very important role as an education provider, engaging actively
in the design and delivery of instructional systems, providing educational and learning
opportunities for people in many, many contexts. At least we’re seeing this in some countries.
In others it’s still a big challenge.