Guest Column: The non-negotiable skills required to navigate the future

A critical part of a good quality education is to prepare students for life after school, and then for life after college and enable them to seamlessly integrate into the world of work. In essence, it entails that the very purpose of education is not merely to enable students to be able to develop the competence to carry out tasks, but how best to prepare the students for life itself.

The future belongs to those who have the skill sets needed to adapt. (Shutterstock)

In a nutshell, today, it boils down to equipping students with the skills that will prepare them for the needs of an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven economy and enable them to endure and not become redundant in an ever-evolving VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) world.

And, most certainly, coding is important as is science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics (STEAM), robotics, AI, computing and innovation.

However, each of the above has components that become outdated and obsolete no sooner than a cohort has mastered them. So, the bigger question is how to equip students with essential skills for an AI-driven economy, bearing in mind future job trends, and strategies to foster adaptability and critical thinking in training and education to meet the demands of a rapidly evolving job landscape. And this is precisely what people are constantly seeking insights on!

The answer is skills that will endure even as the world changes in the blink of an eye. These skills include:

Lifelong learning — in a world where the only constant is change, to remain relevant in the workplace and to be an asset one will perforce need to develop the ability to be a lifelong learner. Degrees, qualifications and certifications are not enough anymore; these will need to be bolstered by skill sets and competencies that are regularly up-skilled and built upon!

Problem solving — Rest assured the world of work will always be in need of individuals who are able to seek opportunities in what others simply view as problems!

The future belongs to those who have the skill sets needed to resolve difficult solutions and who are able to embrace a mindset that is able to see solutions where others see a conundrum! This is where Resilience and a Never Give In spirit is invaluable!

Collaboration — The world of work will see teams and groups of individuals working together on a common project, often operating out of disparate geographies and from different domains.

In conclusion, it is more important for educators to nurture values, empathy and ethics than to advocate the use of AI enablers like ChatGPT.

Clearly, the way ahead is to be able to delve into all things tech, while looking at the world through a lens that is inclusive, pluralistic and above all humane. This is precisely where the importance of the human element is most critical.

It can be best achieved through an education that is enriched with the Humanities. It is the intersection of empathy and ethics in education through the lens of humanities. Those with a high Adversity Quotient and resilience will endure in the age of AI. The humanities foster values and emotional intelligence essential for the holistic development not only of humans but the survival of humanity as we know it.

(The writer is the headmaster of The Lawrence School, Sanawar.)

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