The hypnosis and neurosis of Education

April 29, 2013

future education

There is a well-intentioned neurosis around education that seeks to justify the educational outcomes of the previous generation by imposing the educational standards, rigours and methodologies onto the next generation.

In a past world secondary education most often led to a singular qualification or vocation. This employment choice required pre-employment education and ongoing workplace informal and ad hoc education.

The norm of employment was a single linear career where the employer offered tacit certainty of life long employment and forty years of career progression at the end of which you received a golden watch for a job well done and a pension that took you into retirement and your new life.

In this world culture and society required conformity in its future citizens. It was practical in a more routine world and society to underpin education with the foundational teaching of the three R’s (writing, arithmetic and reading).

The education system of the past suited the needs of the past, but in a future where there is less certainty and rigour, where we may live to 120 years of age, work into their 80’s, have 6 distinct careers and 14 jobs in professions that we do not yet know of doing tasks we yet can’t imagine the underpinnings of education, employment and society will require innovation and invention.

The hypnosis of the future is that the workplace and the 9-5 will disappear. That the need for physical exertion and work will diminish as mechanical devices take over humanity’s chores and that instead people will spend long hours in idleness and recreation is not on tomorrow’s radar.

These are falsehoods.

The core of work and society’s need of it will still remain, but what we need to do to equip tomorrow’s workforce will have to evolve.

The workplace of tomorrow will be global, physical, virtual and digital.

Language and physical location will cease to be barriers to work.

Global qualifications and accreditations will become increasingly important as will the ability to acculturate and collaboratively work in both physical and digital work tribes.

Work will increasingly be done in project and task mode rather than in 9-5 mode and the notion of where we work will be less important than how we work.

All of this will play itself out against a backdrop where the world will add 2 billion to its population in the next four decades; see huge increases in the numbers of well-educated middle class citizens and ironically face the duality of a global skill shortage in an environment of overabundance of available workers.

In this new world of work education’s preparatory role is not just foundational, but transformational.

We must equip tomorrow’s learner s who have already outsourced the 3R’s and other routine memory tasks to external technologies and who are adapt at online research and inquiry with the fundamental skills that will extend these innate skills into vocational purpose, this new educational focus and paradigm should include a liberal dose of the 3C’s – Communication, Collaboration and Creative Problem Solving.

Education’s physical premises will also become less important as we move to multi-modality, multi-site offerings where the viewing of prerecorded lectures, deep and immersive virtual and physical learning resources are common and student-teacher engagement is a blend of physical and virtual.

These core learning instruments will be continuously added to by adaptive learning environments and technologies that constantly search out and learn the students’ preferences, abilities, needs, content being taught, required outcomes to assemble a bespoke set of hyperpersonalised education experiences with best practice learning aids and examples each flexed to the learners preferred learning styles and delivery mode.

This amorphous educational future scaffolding will include an orchestra of educators, academics, educational institutions, industry, professionals, non-academics and knowledge providers, all either physically or virtually coming in and out of the learning environment when and where required to provide real-time learning and insights in varying taxonomies, most appropriate to the learner, the task and the learners preferred style for that specific learning episode.

In this new education frontier students will use a blend of traditional learning tools as well as newer teaching tools including gamification through which they can attend digitally at physical art galleries; attend virtual foreign classrooms to learn language and culture, as well as trial complex scientific and mathematical problem solving methodologies using virtual modeling and prototyping.

The reality is that for digital and mobile natives of today and tomorrow this world already exists. It is the world that they already see and function in.

We must not take them back to a world that enshrines past skills and behaviors, that does not challenge and stimulate them and that does not adequately prepare them for the uncertainty and opportunities of tomorrow’s world. To do this is to condemn us to relive our past when the purpose of each new generation and the education system that nurtures them should be to invent our future.

Work as we may not know it

January 14, 2013

future of workDavid Dowsett of ABC local Queensland radio and I chatted about my recent article on the future of work and employment.

So have a read, have a listen and as always I’d love to know your thoughts on the Future of Work and Employment


The good news is that there will be employment way into the future, there has to be. Things will always need to be done, built, sold, fixed, transported and accounted for and always will.

Secondly, for the foreseeable future Australia’s employment rate will be high and in the mid 90%.

The other wonderful, or perhaps disconcerting news, depending on whether you’re a half full or half empty kind of person, is that we’re not going to need furriers, blacksmiths or elevator operators much anymore.

Now I know that’s kind of obvious, but these professions were great honourable and inspiring jobs in their day, using cutting edge technology and machinery to fulfil a society’s dreams and demands.

Tomorrow’s employment space, made up of a dwindling baby boomer cohort and increasing X,Y,Z and A generations will have 6 careers and 14 jobs. They will work towards the completion of tasks and project, not time allocation; in industries we cannot yet name, nor fathom, using skills that today are unimaginable.

By 2025, 60% of us will be working digitally and remotely, not tethered to a fixed workspace, but rather in a time and place that best suits the work and the people involved.

Some of us will work as intraprenuers, inspiring our host company’s internally. Others will work as solopreneurs shaping their own destiny and pioneering new paths forward.

Many of us will be working collaboratively co-creating locally, nationally and globally in virtual tribes, connected by a trillion digital things that bestow on us constant contact with, insight to and manipulation of, our physical and digital worlds.

Global unemployment will remain high as over the next three decades we add two billion people to our planet and 18 million to Australia.

Despite this it will remain difficult for employers to find talented employees, as we move through a tectonic shift of inventing and reskilling ourselves to reshape and repurpose existing businesses and professions, as well as forging new horizon industries, practices, business paradigms, ethics and professions.

Education and training will remain a constant to grease this transformation of knowledge, the internet will continue to help to spread this information, but with the overwhelming mountains of data we’re drowning in, businesses and individuals will soon value “wisdom” more highly than gold and oil and professions and industry’s will rise to mine these riches.

Our most prized vocational possession will be our ability to span the duality of working simultaneously in a physical and digital world.

Tomorrow’s work landscape will also see the increasing use of robots, virtualisation, telecommuting and 3D printing further blurring the intersection of human and machine and igniting the question of whether human or machine is best-fit for the task at hand and does it matter?

Standing still is no longer a viable option.

Every job, every profession, every human activity is currently being redefined. Those that are destined to succeed are now standing firm-footed on the precipice of change eagerly scanning their horizon searching for tomorrow’s possibilities and necessities.

Listen now:

Future of Work

August 27, 2012

As part of our regular monthly look at the Future on ABC Radio Gold Coast this morning we took a tour to the future of work to see who will be in the workforce in 2020 and beyond, how Australian’s may be working, where we may be working, some of the rising industries and what new jobs may be around.

Listen now:

or listen live the first Monday of each month at 9.35 a.m.

Physically here, virtually there.

June 6, 2011

Here’s an article I recently wrote on the future of work and workplaces for the New Exchange

The Year 2020 is only nine years away and for many it holds the romantic promise of how different life and business will be, but will the reality live up to the expectation?


In 2020 we will hold the 32nd Olympic Games and it will be a leap year. Australia’s population will be around 25.5 million. Baby boomers will be 58 years old plus and one in five of us will be over 60 years of age. The median Australian age will be 40 with a life expectancy of 81 for a male and 86 for a female.

In our 2020 workplaces, one in three employees will be working on a causal, part time or project basis. 40% of today’s senior leaders will have reached retirement age. Gen Y will account for 42% of the workforce. The average job tenure will be 2.4 years and one in four workers will be working remotely or virtually.

Between now and 2020 we will also move forward 100 technological years as we continue to irrevocably enmesh our physical world with our online virtual world and render ourselves virtually immortal leaving digital footprints that will echo throughout all time.

Tomorrows’ workplaces and thinking

The eternal core of an innovator is underpinned by a childlike curiosity; a “why not” and “what if” attitude to every possibility they encounter in a daily fresh new world; a strong intuitive belief in how the world is evolving, all balanced by a strategic old-world whole of business pragmatism.

This will remain fundamental in business innovation, but what is different is the speed of change and the breadth of opportunities that we have access to.

As technology increasingly satisfies our linear and routine work activities and provides us with synthetic thinking and analysis, successful corporations will evolve into the realisation that human knowledge and the willingness and agility to readily and appropriately respond to the unusual and unpredictable will offer them their unique point of difference and profitable competitive edge.

Where once we may have jealously guarded our intellectual property and unique know-how, we will instead choose to seek out ways to leverage and make best use of these by forming alliances with other business and providers who service similar and complimentary markets, knowing that in this collaborative offering there is strength, growth and profitability for all involved.

2020’s workplaces will need to be adept at uniting a physically present tribe of employees with a tribe of offsite and often transient staff’s, specifically chosen for their ability to add value to the task or project regardless of where they are on the globe.

These tribe members may have history and longevity in working together, but just as likely may only come together to perform one task or project and then disband, repeating this process over and over again responding ongoing to global marketplace needs for projects, skill, wisdom and insights.

The old management paradigm of control will also slowly give way to the new paradigm of influence, as we learn that our workplaces are extremely fluid, malleable and adaptive and that to flourish in this new work context is to allow our people the freedom to explore new possibilities and methodologies whilst remaining true and fixed on the compass pointing steadfastly to the required outcomes.

As the boundary between our physical and virtual worlds blur and we become more immersed and dependant on constantly on and information rich in situ technologies, the ability to compartmentalise our lives into the historical dictum of eight hours work, eight hours play and eight hours rest will no longer have meaning, or purpose.

The willingness and ability to effectively manage the personal needs of the individual with the commercial needs of an organisation will be a skillset muscle we will all need to exercise and strengthen.

Tomorrow’s professions

Many of tomorrow’s career and industry opportunities are hidden in the 60% of the tasks and jobs we will do in the next decade that we can’t yet imagine.

This includes the burgeoning healthcare industry that will service our aging population as we strive for quality of life as we routinely live to 100 years of age and beyond.

Expect to see a growing number of genetic counsellors, stem cell researchers and custom implant organ designers’ jobs being advertised.

In allied industry’s Baby Boomers will be hiring retirement coaches and counsellors, financial advisors and wealth experts to advise them on how to maximise their post work lives.

Our insatiable reliance on virtual and augmented online worlds will makes digital professionals another sought after industry and profession with new jobs emerging including computer forensic analysts, cyber security specialists, media search consultants and data technologists.

Where to from here?

As we journey towards the year 2020, the companies that thrive and grow will be those that find opportunity in the changes.

They will clearly know what they are capable of; be willing to innovate in large and small ways, be skilled at harnessing the collective wisdom and energy of the people around them, and adept at finding new markets and new opportunities and most importantly not afraid to reach out and grab for them.

The Future of Work – Radio 6PR Perth

March 7, 2009

In this weeks segment Jason Jordan of Perth’s 6PR and Morris chat about the changing workplace, a survey that reveals that people spend 4 hours a day actually WORKING, in and outsourcing, the price of an IT worker in India, great websites like 99designs and so much more… Recorded live 7 March 2009