How can students be prepared for jobs that have not yet been created? Tackle societal issues as yet unimagined? Use technologies not yet invented?
The world is in the midst of significant digital transformation, Industry 4.0, representing the fourth industrial revolution that has occurred in manufacturing. This revolution will fundamentally change the way we live, work and relate to one another. Globalisation and this technological revolution will transform the world of work.
Whilst automation is likely to displace workers, new occupations will be created requiring learners to learn new skills.
Despite the pessimistic outlook and predictions in several reports, research suggests that employment levels could thrive. Employees could work in conjunction with new technologies via integrated thinking or ‘systems thinking’ instead of the perceived threat of the workforce being replaced by Industry 4.0 technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning and robotics.
Many of today’s children will work in new jobs that do not exist, with an increased premium on both digital and social-emotional skills. There is at present a gap between education and jobs. Students need support in developing knowledge and skills, in addition to attitudes and values that can guide them towards ethical and responsible actions that propel humanity towards a bright future.
For example, The Industrial Revolution of the 1800s created a divide between individuals who benefitted and those who did not. Consequently, resulting in a period of ‘societal pain’.
To shorten the period of ‘social pain’ and maximise the period of prosperity, education systems require transformative change. Without action, the next generation will be unprepared for the needs of the future.
The education system will be pivotal in preparing children, young people and workforces of the future by meeting these changing skill needs. The World Economic Forum (WEF) has stated Education models must adapt to equip pupils with higher-order cognitive and ‘soft’ or socio-emotional skills.
School closures, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have further demonstrated the existing deficiency of education systems around the world. While traditional education metrics of literacy and numeracy remain vital, society also requires learners to have a range of ‘soft’ or holistic skills to thrive in the 21st Century.
These include creative, technology, innovation and interpersonal skills. Today, these skills and knowledge need to be developed in a more accessible, personalised and active way.
Industries need to find innovative and emotionally intelligent employees who can apply the principles of the technological revolution by being adaptive, agile and responsive, whilst having the ability to solve complex problems with both critical thinking and creativity.
Unfortunately, there is no current mandate for UK schools to develop the knowledge and skills required by industry within the curriculum, to prepare young people for future careers within Industry 4.0.
The focus must, therefore, be to engage forward-thinking educators to provide students with the opportunities to develop the skills they need to work within Industry 4.0 ready environments and become confident with the new technologies available to them.
Whilst this currently takes place within STEM/STEAM learning, the perception of STEM/STEAM career pathways amongst some educators, parents and students needs to be altered. Good STEAM careers education, information, advice and guidance are key.
STEM/STEAM learning should therefore not just be an extra-curricular add on, or an afterthought to the curriculum. It should instead be front and central as the key to developing skills necessary to achieve the UK’s industrial and economic goals and objectives.
Educators have been interested in the global Maker Movement as it provides hands-on learning opportunities for youths to enhance their knowledge of science, technology, engineering arts and mathematics (STEAM).
With the Maker Movement, project-based learning through tinkering and opportunities to experience less structured projects that allow students to use trial and error to learn from their mistakes in a safe environment without fear of failure. By going through this iterative process in a safe environment, not only will they learn to fail, but they will also develop problem solving, resilience and perseverance skills too.
Makerspaces come in all shapes and sizes but also serve as a gathering point for tools, projects, teachers, students and experts. A makerspace is a collaborative workspace inside a school, museum, studio, library or separate public/private facility for making, learning, exploring and sharing. A collection of tools does not define a makerspace but uses a variety of maker equipment including 3D Printers, laser cutters, CNC machines, soldering irons and even sewing machines. A makerspace is defined by what it enables: making.
Makerspaces in Education are learning environments that facilitate hands-on learning by providing students with access to tools and technologies in order to:
- Bridge the ‘Digital Gap’ by providing training in Industry 4.0 skills.
- Promote creativity, resilience and innovation.
- Prepare students for the careers of the future.
These spaces also help to prepare these who need 21st-century skills in the fields of STEAM. They provide hands-on learning, help with critical thinking skills and even boost self-confidence. Some ‘hard’ skills that are learned within a makerspace pertain to electronics, 3D printing, 3D modelling, coding robotics and even woodworking.
What’s more, makerspaces provide students with a place to be creative outside of the curriculum, providing more ad hoc opportunities, enabling students to take initiative, more responsibility and learn to fail within a safe environment, without fear of impacting grades.
Through the provision of technology-led capabilities and expertise, industry and education can work together, to provide students with hands-on opportunities to develop the skills required by industry alongside their standard curriculum delivery, through Education 4.0.
Students need to experience these ground-breaking technologies today, to future proof our workforce in a globally competitive marketplace and maintain the UK’s place as the sixth biggest economy in the world. Please get in touch with our education specialists to see how your institution can benefit from these exciting 3D technolgies
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