Do you know that earth’s largest ape species, Gigantopithecus went extinct because it could not adapt to climate change at that time (approximately 100,000 years ago)? Interestingly, Gigantopithecus was not the only species to go extinct because of the lack of adaptability to change. Throughout history, anyone who has failed to adapt to the changing circumstances has faced the same consequences. Even in the 21st century, the rules remain all the same.
There’s no denying that we all are proceeding towards the age of automation. And while we are learning new ways to improve the quality of lives with the help of technology, the advanced technologies like AI (artificial technology) and ML (machine learning) are actually threatening the job security of millions of people.
A brief overview of the current scenario
We all have seen that AI-powered Google Assistant can now actually conduct a telephonic conversation and mimic human-to-human interactions. We have also seen an AI robot getting the citizenship of a country. This does make you think “Are we, as humans, lagging behind the technology which we have created”. Well, in the world of robotics, AI and other advanced technologies, we are actually falling behind of our creations. And if we do not do something, we may also meet the same fate as Gigantopithecus.
Well, the technology may not threaten our existence (as of now), but it is actually threatening the jobs that have been managed by humans over the years. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), 41 percent of all work activities in South Africa have become susceptible to automation. In other African countries, including Ethiopia, Nigeria and Kenya, the numbers (44, 46 and 52, respectively) are even higher. It is believed that by 2020, 39 percent of core skills requirements across different occupations will not be the same as today.
The reports by WEF suggests that in South Africa, if you do not acquire 39 percent new skills, then there’s a high chance that you may be stranded in the 41 percent of occupations which are apparently at risk of becoming obsolete in the wake of automation. And it is not just the jobs of working class people that are at risk. Automation also threatens the job of the people at executive and managerial positions across various industries.
What is the role of education in this time of crisis?
While the major portion of the workforce around the world is facing a critical situation, the education institutes across the globe should work towards providing the new generation of professionals with knowledge and education that can help them stay relevant in the fast-paced world. Quite evidently, the education institutes can no longer rely on the age-old methods to train today’s generation who are going to be working in the digital world. As you may realize, a few years from now, our competitors will not just be the fellow humans but also the machines and algorithms, who are also programmed to do the same job, but more efficiently.
To teach the skills of tomorrow, the education institutes require a future-focused approach. It does not mean that they should just put the traditional study material on the digital platform. Yes, they do require an online platform to achieve the desired goal, but e-learning is not the only solution here.
Perhaps, it will be more effective if the education institutes can introduce a multi-layered, guided, collaborative learning approach to educate the students about the skills of tomorrow. Instead of curriculum-based efforts, the practical approach should be taken, providing the learners with interactive, peer-to-peer learning engagements and lecturer-led live discussions.
The digital discussions can help the students to unfold the on-campus process. This will help the education institutes ensure that the students have proper access to the interactions necessary to stretch the discussions but through a convenient e-learning channel. If this approach can be adopted by all the educational institutes across the globe, this may help the students learn the new skills more eloquently.
The learning of human skills requires a human touch
Apparently, the individual skills that are going to define the next era of professions, will include human skills, emotional intelligence, unique and complex problem solving, social quotient, life-long learning. For organizations, the necessary skills are going to be the ability to adapt, to be organizationally aware, culturally sensitive and to be agile.Now, look at this long list of skills and ask yourself – Is it possible to learn those skills in an isolated online platform where the lessons are regulated according to the geographic locations and individualized settings? Perhaps not. The workforce is becoming increasingly global, flexible and mobile, learning in isolation is not going to benefit the individuals.
To survive in a dynamic world, learners now need to absorb knowledge and ideas to master the new skills through interactions and constructive debate within a safe place. What most of us do not understand yet is that education should allow people to connect, not to isolate.
In other words, undirected learning is not going to help the next generation of professionals in the upcoming challenges. Learners are now going to need interactive, guided, collaborative and learner-centered approach towards learning which is not only going to be affordable but also be effective because of its digital nature.
Apparently, today’s e-learning needs to reflect the era towards which we all are proceeding to. While the technical skills will be significant in the future world of work, human touch on each of these skills is going to play a bigger role in defining the future.
How can e-learning help the scenario in Africa?
Whether, it is Africa or any other part of the world, inadequately skilled workers are always considered a major constraint in all kinds of businesses. Improving the e-learning approach with more peer-to-peer interactions and lecturer-led discussions is perhaps the best chance at producing a skilled and globally relevant African taskforce. Right now, e-learning is considered the best way to push skills into Africa. But as mentioned earlier, simply putting the education on a digital platform is not going to help the African executives and professionals learn the complex layers of knowledge, not the cultural nuances embedded in trading, managing and transacting across nations.
Instead of learning in a virtual environment, if you give the learners the opportunity to make interactions and debate, then they can take the material, localize that and make it contextually relevant. As you may realize, what works in South Africa, may not necessarily work in Kenya. In this particular learning environment, the essence of humanity is going to take the lead.
As it happens, the AI and robotics will continue to make the administrative jobs obsolete, but there are still some areas where the human skills are going to play a crucial role. Teaching these skills of tomorrow in a social setting, even if that is digital, can bring revolution in the e-learning space.
Author bio: Olaila Lee is a marketing expert who is working for an MNC for the past 6 years. She has been associated with Myassignmenthelp as an academic expert for a couple of years and provides physics homework help services Apart from writing engaging blogs on marketing, tech and education trends, she likes hiking and surfing when not wooing her international clients with amazing marketing advice.