Workplace success

I was saying on Wednesday to some pupils that I had no idea what the world would look like today when I was their age. That doesn’t mean I’m ancient (even if I may appear so in their eyes!); it’s simply a reflection of the pace of change in my lifetime so far, with technology very much at the heart of that revolution.

‘Back in the day’, it may have been enough to get good grades to be assured of a place at a good university which would in turn lead to a good job. Many of you will know from the demands of your own professions that this is no longer the case and that some of the skills previously required in the workplace will increasingly be replaced by AI.

Many of today’s children will live into the 22nd century, needing to adapt to a world which will continue to evolve in all sorts of ways.

“A typical human being now lives significantly longer than the time between major innovations.  Nowadays young people entering the workforce can expect to see several major changes during their lifetime that will very likely disrupt the continuity of their careers.”

(Andrew McAfee, Erik Brynjolfsson: ‘Harnessing the Digital Revolution’)

The list of skills and attributes required for success is very different from a few years ago. In schools we must prepare our children for tomorrow’s world, ignoring at our peril the importance of cognitive, creative and people skills.

Top 10 skills in 2020 (Future of Jobs Report, World Economic Forum):

  1. Complex problem-solving
  2. Critical thinking
  3. Creativity
  4. People management
  5. Coordinating with others
  6. Emotional intelligence
  7. Judgement and decision-making
  8. Service orientation
  9. Negotiation
  10. Cognitive flexibility

Consider too this diagram:

We shall, of course, continue at LGS to aspire to academic excellence; we want our pupils to achieve as well as they can, relative to their abilities, keeping all their options open. But, when we talk about a holistic, well-rounded education and all the stuff that goes with it (development of curiosity, independent thought, oracy, creativity, resilience, teamwork, leadership, character, empathy, responsibility), we do so not just because we think it makes our children better people. It’s not an optional extra: we believe with a passion that these are essential ingredients for future success and happiness.

Best wishes,

John Watson