Given that the future of work is quite uncertain for most workers, the idea of continuous learning to remain relevant in the workforce is widely accepted by those who study the area. With experts split between a utopian and dystopian outlook, we have to wonder what it will look like for the average worker – in either scenario.
No matter how things play out, there will be eventual stability reached for everyone. I believe that eventually there will be a quasi-utopian (at least better than now) existence for most of us. However, the pathway there will be anything but utopian. With the uncertainty and disruption that is accompanying this industrial revolution, along with powerful forces taking full advantage of the uncertainty – regardless of political/economic outlook – there will be a period of real uncertainty and disruption for everyone.
So, what will emerge for the average worker? The future relevance for most workers will involve continuous cycles of work/learning. Working at a job until that job becomes redundant and then retraining to fulfill a different post.
Given the inertia inherent in education and training, this retraining process will look much the same as it does today. The Powerpoint slides will be more colorful with much more advanced transitions. The seats in the retraining rooms will have more padding and all of them should have wheels. In addition, new colors of pens will appear in order to spice up whiteboard materials. In really innovative centers, the tables will be in clusters instead of rows, which will require about 1/3 of the participants to have to turn around and write on their laps during the bulk of the presentations. Although everything will change, nothing will change.
Worse yet, the retraining will be task-based. Once the “red-green-blue” button pushing operation is replaced by the “yellow-aqua-mauve” operation, the workers will all have to be retrained for the new task. And, unfortunately, that is exactly what will happen. Workers will engage in a continuous cycle of work and retraining in order to be able to carry out the newest combination of micro-tasks.
From my perspective on the future of learning, traditional methods of teaching reign supreme. There are companies offering radically different methods involving quantum infused radiant magneto-oscillating electrodes planting knowledge directly onto the surface of the cortex to be absorbed with the aid of endless ingestion of platinum nano-particulates in nutritional supplement form – something that taps into a primitive, but effective form of learning that was practiced in Atlantis and was secretly housed (and recently unearthed) in an ancient burial mound near Mona ap Gwynedd on the Isle of Dinas Erpiffani in Wales. However, most retraining programs (most, but not all) will look at these companies and shake their collective heads. And, traditional methods will reign supreme.
What is wrong with this? Even learning new individual tasks can be improved using the principles underlying The Science of Learning. But, more importantly, the value of every worker would be increased exponentially if abstract cognitive enablers were taught to the workforce en mass. We know how to do it.
Not a likely outcome, but an outcome that would lead to a real utopian future for workers, owners, and society at large. Unfortunately, this is a future that is as unlikely as the various utopian societies that have been envisioned across the centuries. Instead, workers will be exposed to endless retraining to learn the new task as efficiently (cheaply) as possible and the winners will be the corporate kings and the retraining businesses.