By Carol Simpson
I seem to have been asked a lot lately about how we can better prepare our students and jobseekers for the current opportunities in the labour market and also for jobs in the future, some of which don’t yet exist. If we look back to jobs only 10 years ago, there were no social media managers, 3D printing specialists or data journalists. Electrical technicians can now readily specialise to become solar or windmill technicians and the use of technology has driven the number of data analysts in Canada up by 64% in the five years prior to 2013.
There are many current local opportunities in such sectors as Manufacturing, Finance and Agriculture where people do not consider themselves as potential workers for various reasons. E.g. they may perceive the work as heavy or dirty or requiring specialized degrees or certifications where, in reality, there are jobs available at all levels from entry level to highly specialized and everything in between. It is evident that many people pigeon hole themselves to a specific job, career path or industry when, in fact, they have transferable skills that could take them in many different directions. They don’t recognize this and often those supporting them don’t either.
As technology impacts the type of jobs being created, it is estimated that it will be necessary for 80% of workers to have skills sets across Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). A good example is retail sales. Most retail clerks can survive on good customer service skills, however, retail jobs are quickly morphing to also require technical and the computer skills to run and maintain POS equipment, track inventory and perhaps even program in-store 3D printers soon.
According to experts, only 20% of future jobs will require less than a post-secondary education and, as previously mentioned, 80% will require higher levels of STEM. In an attempt to provide the student with a more rounded education, Arts has also now become an additional focus in many educational jurisdictions (STEAM).
Education and training need to become less focussed on preparing people for specific jobs and more focussed on teaching a set of key hard and soft skill sets that can offer multiple employment options and/or choices of specialization. This would make people much more mobile across not just jobs but industries as well and we would more easily be able to meet the future changing demands of the labour market.
Originally posted 2016-02-19 18:01:45.