Education and Learning are often said to be about preparing young people for “the Jobs of the Future”. Anytime we see the phrase “of the Future”, especially when future is capitalized we might be well advised to put on a “prove it” hat, because we are likely to encounter a great deal of unsubstantiated speculation.
However, in a few instances that’s not what we should do. Jobs of the Future is one of those instances. Because those are exactly the jobs that we are training and educating our young for today, whether we realize it or not. By the time they are ready to enter the adult world of employment, the “job landscape” will be substantially different from what it is today.
That has 2 big implications.
- One, we should pay particular attention to knowing if our education of today is going to work for the jobs of the future, and
- Two, we need to get good at predicting what those jobs of the future are going to be.
We already know that there’s a disconnect between the jobs a college graduate thought they were preparing for, and what those jobs actually require/ need by the time of graduation. In those 4 or 6 or 8 years of learning, the jobs don’t stand still, they change, and they may change a great deal. And some of them will cease to exist.
So, anyone in education and learning needs to also be in the business of predicting the future, or at least very well-connected with the world’s best futurists, and their predictions. Since Alvin Toffler and Marshall McLuhan are no longer with us in person (although their ideas certainly are) is there some certified list of qualified and respected futurists for us to consult?
Stewart Brand has an okay track record, and the MIT Media Lab people of past and present, including Nicholas Negroponte, have contributed a lot. Then there’s sci-fi authors like Philip K. Dick, Arthur C. Clark, Vernor Vinge, and various lists curated online. And then there are guys going around saying they are Futurists like they mean it. Probably some of those are on TED talks.
Here’s one: Thomas Frey, who claims to be Google’s Top Rated Futurist, whatever that might mean, and perhaps a self-fulfilling prophecy. Pun intended as that’s one of his big ideas about the future, it’s our ideas about the future that we have today that lead us to create the future, according to those ideas. To change the future, change our ideas of the future now.
Mr. Frey also started a non-profit called The DaVinci Institute, a sort of futurist incubator up in Denver. Oh, and yes, he has a TEDx U Chicago talk.