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How rapidly advancing industrial tech could affect your kids’ careers

Despite all the unknowns, creativity, innovation and STEM skills are bound to be critical for Gen Alpha, says Norwegian Minister of Education and Integration Guri Melby.

Generation X-ers and even Millennials had it easy when it came to imagining what they would do in the future. But Generation Alpha, a cohort born in the early 2010s through the mid-2020s, won’t have the same luxury of predictability. Today we face change so rapid that the future jobs for this generation are nearly impossible to foresee.

Norwegian Minister of Education Guri Melby gives Ignite News her take on how to educate and prepare this generation for the future.

How can we help our kids thrive in their future careers?

GM: The fast-paced change that technology brings to every sector, every fiber of society, means it’s impossible to tell what even the near future will look like. Trying to imagine exactly what kind of jobs our children will have when they grow up is difficult. Because we don’t know. That means we need to teach our children more than basic skills. The educational system needs to prepare them for a working life that involves change and continuous learning. Creativity and innovation are central.

What about higher education?

GM: I think higher education will need to be less uniform. In the near future, student life won’t be a period in your early 20s—it’s your entire life. The qualifications you need in 10 years will be quite different from the ones you’ll need 20 years later. We should all prepare to re-educate ourselves and gain more knowledge continuously throughout our careers. The education system must adapt to this, becoming more open and flexible. It needs to get easier for people of diverse ages and contexts to take a broader range of courses and degrees.

How do we ensure that Gen Alpha is motivated to drive the transformation of industries in need of change?

GM: The future needs all of us, and there are enough challenges for everyone. But it’s obvious that STEM education will be central to many of tomorrow’s jobs. That means children have to learn about and try out these disciplines a long time before they enter higher education. In addition, we need high-quality educators who possess these competencies that can inspire and motivate young people to pursue such careers.

What do you think is the best recipe for educating and motivating future generations?

GM: I think motivation comes naturally when the pupils are inspired, thrive, and learn that they actually are up to the challenge. But they need good role models, and more freedom to choose the subjects they are most interested in, whether it’s dance and programming or math and Chinese. I think we’ll need more people with nontraditional combinations of skills in the future. Mixing creative disciplines and STEM can make for great and innovative solutions to tomorrow’s challenges!

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