Talking about the jobs of the future has become fashionable. What will a white-collar professional look like? For many years now, researches have been predicting that new technologies, constantly evolving, will be incorporated into our daily lives to the extent that they will substantially change the way we work. Nevertheless, it is still not clear what, how and when these changes will take place.
The end of February saw the Mobile World Congress, which was held in Barcelona. Following the gathering we now know that networks with 5G technologies will be deployed quickly. The Port of Barcelona has set aside considerable investment in the network’s installation. From then on we can look forward to robots, automation processes, sensorisation, big data, IoT, drones and so on and so forth.
A news item from the Spanish online magazine El País Digital dated 25 February 2019 further underlined the issue: “Before the halfway point of the year is passed, the Ford and Nissan plants (with more than 10,000 workers between the two) will reveal what future awaits them. Doubts about the future of diesel and the risks about how the transition to electric cars will be dealt with and whether the Spanish industry will be able to climb on the bandwagon to produce them. “
Employees who know how to make cars with traditional internal combustion engines will now have produce electric cars. The electrical engineering skills for these new vehicles might be better found among employees of a washing machine factory rather than the workforce of current-day carmakers. We are living in a world of disruptive changes that demand a very high adaptability.
We are told that many of the current jobs will disappear and new ones will be created, but we do not know which ones, nor do we know the specific skills that will have to be acquired. Even if we had the advantage of foresight, it would not be easy to react either as surely, we do not yet have readily available teachers or experts prepared to train others in these subjects.
I, as the director, am fortunate because the Escola Europea has a magnificent vantage point to see and assess the situation in many training centres in Europe and across the Mediterranean shores. A significant number of students and teachers pass through our classrooms. We spend a lot of time together, and this gives us the opportunity to get to know each other and to talk a little about a myriad of topics. I’ve seen that the majority is worried about the future, and about whether the students are well prepared for what faces them in the road ahead.
Our teachers are exceptional, but nevertheless they are aware that the problem is universal and affects everyone. They also are faced with the challenge of teaching skills that they themselves have not yet fully mastered. The VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) imposes itself.
According to the study by the Barcelona business school IESE “The Future of Occupation and Future Professional Skills” ( February 2019), what we can see is that the knowledge gap in technology and digitalization is following a continuous upward trend. “48% of companies detect deficiencies in vocational training graduates. Likewise, companies consider that the knowledge gap in areas such as big data, digital marketing, artificial intelligence or blockchain will be even bigger in five years, which increases the challenge of improving the education system”. Companies consider that they have to play a more active role in the definition of future professional competences and in the contents of training. They need, on the part of the education system, a more complete, holistic and practical training, with emphasis on the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed in the coming years. A more intense collaboration of the different actors is needed. 87% of the companies that participated in the study considered it important for them play a more active role in defining the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes that are in demand in the industry. They expressed their willingness to collaborate in the creation of training plans with the educational centres in this vital task.
The message is clear. The responsibility for training belongs not only to the educational institutions, but also to the companies themselves, and to the workers already active in the sector who should get their associations and professional networks involved.
We all owe recognition to those professionals who devote part of their time to training others. At the Escola we know this very well and are indebted to the individuals who come to lecture in our classrooms or carry out the practical workshops, and share their professional expertise and advice with us and our students. I ask you for the recognition and gratitude they deserve for the work they do.
If you are interested in this topic, it is worth spending some time on the report that the world economic forum produced in 2018 (https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-future-of-jobs-report-2018).
We must think of strategies that will allow us to facilitate the transition into this new technology-dominant professional landscape. And we have to be prepared for the surprises that will inevitably come up. Personally, I strongly believe that we will have a much better world, albeit a drastically different one from what we have today.