ADDITIONAL VALUE ADDED SKILLS REQUIRED TO SUCCEED IN AN INFORMATION ECONOMY

Monday 19 May 2014 at 11:30 pm.

i have been trying to formulate an idea that is itching me.  I see it unfolding rapidly and want to pass it on to my 15 grandchildren.  Sakaria's message below begins to touch on it.

It seems clear to me now that all my (our) grandchildren are very smart,  for whatever reasons, and they all will earn advanced professional degrees and doctorates,  and work at a high skill level.   But this is not enough in an information economy.  By 2020 it is estimated that Big Data will equal about 35 trillion gigabytes of storage and 15% will be on the cloud. These numbers are meaningless to me, except it somehow means that Big Data is huge; and those who manage to develop the ancillary technical skills to manipulate and use Big Data will have a competitive advantage in the workplace.  First, by enabling them to advance their knowledge and skills; and secondly by enabling them to be innovative to affect outcomes and profit for their companies.

Remember that half the jobs that exist in 2025 do not exist today.

I remember my first job out of college.  I worked as an operations research mathematician (rocket scientist) at Vitro Laboratories in Silver Springs MD on a project for Admirals Henry Raborn and Hyman Richover for the USNavy.  The project was to ascertain whether a nuclear weapon system was feasible aboard submarines.  I was low man on the totem pole assisting some very serious scientists.  Our team demonstrated the feasibility of the idea and hency our nuclear subs.  I worked on the force of coriolis. My real job was to learn to make coffee, and also how to program the incipient IBM computers with 4K of memorry in 1957 to perform calculations and summarize data.  Learning to write a program and execute it was the most important ancillary skill i had ever developed; and I maintained the skill.  I used it thoughout my entire business career all the way to the top of my company.  I recently finished writing a program to solve Sudoku.

I want my grandchildren to learn to code computers and laptops, and to write and work macro-languages, as an ancillary skill, to get the most out of the application tools available to them through their various keyboards.  I want them to be fearless in attacking Big Data that is available to them in the workplace.

As technology continues to shift, what will employees look for in their job candidates and how can education best prepare tomorrow’s workforce?

At the Global Education & Skills Forum, Big Think sat down with Fareed Zakaria, the host of CNN’s flagship foreign affairs show and New York Times bestselling author of The Post-American World, to discuss education in the 21st century.

Knowing how to learn, according to Zakaria, is a skill that will never be phased out.

“What’s crucial is not the particular set of skills you have, but that you demonstrate a capacity to acquire them,” he says. For this reason, accreditation is important, for job candidates and employers alike. Zakaria calls it the “holy grail” of education.

Universities earn a lot of money providing employers with a “filtering system”: The top companies want to hire students from the top schools. The rising access to high-quality and affordable online education allows more people to learn from professors who teach classes at elite schools like Harvard and Stanford. Will accreditation from such programs matter to employers as much as having attended the four-year brick-and-mortar version, complete with the dorm room experience?

“If employers start treating those pieces of paper, those accreditations as worth a lot, that completely changes the nature of education,” he says. “[Then] what you are being paid for is really outcome related.  It is related to what skills have you acquired rather than process related.”

Zakaria does see the rise in online accreditation programs as a way to help people learn the skills that they need in order to advance in their fields. For more on his take on how to stay competitive in the knowledge economy, watch a clip from Big Think’s interview:

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