The simple yet seminal, “all things are ready, if our mind be so,” is culled from William Shakespeare’s Henry V. Today’s buzzwords unfailingly include artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and big data. The Internet of Things (IoT) has an allure around it. Not surprisingly, learners and workers are hard-pressed to cope
with the demands of the everevolving digital world.
Many learners and workers find that a qualification which they treasure, does not in the end, give them the cover and security they hope for. I wish to suggest
that the race to keep pace with competencies required of digital natives runs the risk of overlooking other core requirements in the development of a person; what experts refer to as soft skills.
Reuters journalists Kate Holton and Sinead Cruise this week wrote an insightful essay entitled, “onboarding during Covid: new hires grapple with office politics from home”.
It struck a familiar chord. They wrote that “joining a new company can be tough at the best of times, with bosses to impress, skills to learn and new colleagues
to befriend. But the task becomes a whole lot harder when the on-boarding is done during a pandemic...leaving new hires to judge colleagues on their taste in
curtains and conduct on Zoom.”
The story quotes a partner at McKinsey Consulting, Alexander DiLeonardo, who says that, “when you aren’t sitting next to your colleagues or outside your
supervisor’s office, you have to be intentional about reaching out.” My mind raced to an observation that I have often heard: the argument that there is a disconnect between what education offers versus the skills that the working world requires. Some have argued that the educational curriculum
sometimes comes across as static when viewed against the backdrop of the digital world.
As automation, AI and the coronavirus pandemic make jobs difficult or obsolete, there is a need to ensure that people’s competencies remain relevant.
While the sceptical and naysayers still warn against over-hyping the importance of information and communication technology skills, there is no denying that
technology’s footprint will grow. Accordingly, I have fallen for the argument that says, “technology doesn’t replace you, it empowers you.” Its proponents argue
that educational qualifications should go beyond merely giving employment to people. Education should also clothe them with values that can sustain and future-proof them.
They push for more purposeful investment in the six Cs, namely, curiosity, creativity, critical thinking, cultural awareness, collaboration and communication
skills. A professor of computing, Alan Smeaton, says that, “the world may change but it will always be made of people who are more numerate, or more artistic, or more personable, or more introverted and introspective. Our children will make the world and they will adapt it to their strengths and weaknesses.”
It is argued that people should strive to have qualities that build them into more than mere technology addicts. Further, there are calls for resilience and
emotional intelligence that can give people the confidence, poise and self-esteem they require in a fast-evolving world.
Psychologist Jessica Koehler writes that, “to be a creative and imaginative thinker is to develop original and useful products – whether physical or ideational. To
develop these ideas, we need to have a knowledge base that will allow our brains to connect different stores of information.”
On his part, education advocate Steve Paine says that, “almost every employer, in every occupation, prefers workers who know how to problem-solve, be creative, work collaboratively, and communicate well.”
As people brace for endless calls to reinvent themselves, author Seth Godin provides a timeless lesson when he encourages people to ask how they can become “so resilient, so human and such a lynchpin that shifts in technology won’t be able to catch up.”