Sustainability and the Workforce of the Future

So, Tina has a marathon mega conference call with a prominent learning professional, who I will not mention here (but whose name rhymes with Melliot Wasie) and a bunch of other learning professionals. When she gets off the call she says the conversation she was participating in was about reskilling and training. Specifically, how to train people in new skills and who was going to pay for it. The more interesting question was, of course, what are these new competencies they are training for…which she brought to the attention of the group. For this, there is no easy answer, so it is not a favored topic of discussion. But it is a topic we better get on quick or buckle up.

So, it occurred to me that this is a PRIME candidate for a sustainability blog. Hey, I have one of those! And, it might surprise you to note, I have opinions on this issue as well…

The world is changing faster than we can keep up with it…at least as individuals. Our future brilliance and viability in the market place is inextricably bound up with our ability to forge community, collaborate, get the right people in the room to brainstorm, connect with people over large distances and form bonds with people we have never met face to face. And, more than ever before, the competencies of flexibility, agility in thought, fast-fail-for-success mentality and the ability to release old structures and ways of doing things will form our value in the coming market.

Or, at least, that is what I believe.

So, that’s all fine and good, except that this is not how we came up in the world. Nor is it the way our children are being educated. The structure of our schools is set up completely contrary to this. Failure is, well, failure…not a path to success. And you alone must memorize the content to be tested or it is cheating. We are still basing our education system on old models that have nothing at all to do with agility in thought or flexibility in thinking. And, It’s not the teachers. I have known many teachers who are really engaged and want to help their students learn to adapt and process information. And, I have met many teachers who have been in the system a while and just given up. Because a well meaning, but hopelessly flawed effort to “leave no child behind” has forced a rigid concentration on standardized testing as a measurement for the success of a school. So the schoolwork naturally focuses on maximum success on these tests. Strategies for taking them…memorization of mnemonic devices for formulas and outlining…practicing endlessly for those days of testing that determine everything about the school. So, what about this is preparing our kids for a wildly changing and enormously challenging future?

Sir Ken Robinson talked to some of this in his 15 minute speech at TED. (if you have never checked out TED talks, go and be amazed.) If you have 15 minutes, check out what he has to say.

http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf

The upshot is this, in pursuit of a sustainable future, we must evaluate what of our competencies will truly be important in the face of a wildly changing market place. Where are we going as a culture and how can we shape ourselves and our children into strong players in whatever comes?

I am looking at the sum of my workplace competency building to date and trying to figure out what my path to professional sustainability might look like. Are you looking at yours?

Xo,

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