Imagine a team who, instead of running on the hamster wheels of sameness, are engaged in strategic intelligence; their former “jobs” relocated to robots and algorithms. That’s a burgeoning reality.
Andreas Schleicher, the director for education and skills and special adviser on education policy to the secretary-general at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris, sums it up: “The world economy no longer pays you for what you know. Google knows everything. The world pays you for what you can do with what you know.”
Ramaphosa’s answer is paid internships through the Youth Employment Service initiative. This is an admirable initiative and one that should be supported, but it is a quick fix. He also called for a jobs summit. Again, it’s short-term thinking. For a strategic, longer-term solution we need to go back to school.
Young people today should be recognised for what they are: curious, active minds, with easy access to knowledge. They should be educated with that in mind. They should be prepared to be able to process that knowledge timeously to inform quality decision-making.
In an increasingly technological workplace, positions for humans will become increasingly competitive. Intelligence, not knowledge, will be the competitive advantage.
An education revolution will not be easy. Entire academic and administrative structures are in place to bedrock the educational status quo. But most teachers do it not for the money or the generous leave but because few things bring them more joy than seeing insight light in the eyes of their charges.
Dedicated teachers in several leading schools in SA, aware of the shifting world of work, have already started the education revolution. They’re growing foxes — agile, adaptive and anticipatory thinkers, prepared for any kind of world.
It’s early days, but the fire of insight, once lit, is hard to extinguish. If there’s one thing we have learned from SA’s youth, it’s their preparedness to be part of a revolution, and Motshekga’s statements are counter-revolutionary.
• Ilbury is the director at mindofafox and co-founder of the Growing Foxes education programme.