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What do we mean when we say the jobs of the future?

Many of us will have heard the curious statistic that 85% of jobs by 2030 have yet to be invented (Dell Technologies & Institute for the Future, 2018). Can this possibly be true? And how should we prepare our young people for this unpredictable world?

Let's begin by casting our minds back a decade. Could you have predicted some of the jobs that are now abundant in the technology sector? I certainly had not heard of 'Blockchain Engineer' or 'Cloud Services Specialist.' Yet today, these professionals are well-paid, in-demand and working in careers they love. So what leg up did they get ten years ago to put them on the development track that's led to their success?

The sad truth is that many of our established education systems are not teaching these skills and, in some cases, are not even aware of them. We mustn't blame our teachers for this; frankly, they did not train in the areas dominating our future lives. Instead, we need education programs designed by educator-professionals still involved in their fields bringing up-to-date knowledge to the curriculum. It's no wonder our schools struggle to achieve this; why would an employed data scientist leave her job she loves to become a full-time schoolteacher? Even if she did, her knowledge would be out of date by the end of the year.

We've already heard of self-driving cars and Virtual Reality. But what about solar panels hidden in panes of glass, artificial eyes, electric aviation, quantum sensing, Li-Fi, computer-generated imagery, nano-biotechnology...? The list is endless. Yet, our job markets will be overrun with jobs in these fields in under a decade. The knowledge-economy job market (industries fuelled by knowledge rather than physical labor) has already grown by 231% between 2013 and 2018 (LinkedIn) - that's more than doubled in size. In the UK, a monumental £3.4 billion is already being overspent on finding candidates with the right skills (Open University Business Barometer Report, 2019) due to skills shortages in the workforce. Perhaps we are on track for 85% of jobs to be brand new by 2030 after all.

The future-ready skills we're talking about are, of course, digital. Still, we mean a lot more than just using spreadsheets or Google Meet (though these remain ubiquitous). To predict climate, model molecular structures and simulate aerodynamics, we need high levels of computing. Jobs that will also demand socio-emotional and interpersonal skills, like caregiving and leadership, will remain immune to automation and are expected to grow by 30% in ten years (McKinsey).

So, it seems we need a program that perfectly blends 21st-century technology, the imagination to apply it, and a focus on industry-ready socio-emotional, interpersonal and collaborative skills. Sound familiar, anyone?

SFK's courses is just one example of this methodical and engaging approach to education featuring future-ready computing concepts like programming, algorithms, data science, modeling, visualization and machine learning.

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