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Getting future ready

/ 12:09 AM August 27, 2016

DURING THE latter half of the 20th century, which really isn’t that far off in the past, the linear progression was to go to grade school and high school to learn the fundamentals, then pick a career and enroll in an appropriate college degree program, and pursue that dream after graduation.

Today, the technology at our disposal enables us to envision several possible futures, thus making life and learning in the 21st century anything but linear.

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The fact is, in today’s economy, the pressure on those about to enter the workforce leans more toward creating their own jobs rather than on actively competing for job vacancies. This is apparently so whether the new job seeker has a college degree, a technical-vocational training certificate, or a senior high school diploma.

To get ahead in the game, you need to be able to present yourself in such a way that the potential employer creates a new job for you. In the website careerrealism.com, writer Rob Taub explains that job hunters who succeeded in bad economies “have learned to engage in conversation that makes

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others start thinking about why they should create a job for them.” He adds: “If you have something people want, THAT’S the bottom-line. It’s business as usual: Someone recognizes a problem or opportunity and decides to do something about it.”

But it is also true that the very same technology that makes living in the modern world easier and complicated at the same time is making it difficult for employers to find people with the “right fit.” The competencies and skill sets that the individual needs to have keep changing so quickly.  Technology advances so rapidly that certain jobs become either redundant or obsolete. It’s really a global paradox: Thousands upon thousands of new graduates enter the workforce every year, but they rarely have the competencies that employers need at that precise moment. The jobs available now simply weren’t created yet when the job seeker was still in school.

This is the three-way challenge for the industry, academe and government that the HR Summit scheduled on Sept. 1 and 2 with the theme “Getting Future Ready” seeks to address. The Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (Ibpap) is the organizer of the event that will take place at the Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria.

On opening day, Ibpap president and CEO Benedict C. Hernandez will discuss “The Next Frontier for the IT BPM industry,” and Malcolm Foo, people and operations director of PricewaterhouseCoopers Aseanz, “A Global Perspective on the Future of Work.”  Vikrant Khanna, insights and innovations lead for Aon Hewitt, will close the morning with a presentation on the future of human resources.

The work in the afternoon kicks off with panel discussions on the transformation agenda of the future and talent convergence and technology, moderated by Khanna and Penny Bongato, Ibpap executive director for talent development and research, respectively.

Commission on Higher Education Chair Patricia B. Licuanan will deliver the keynote address on Sept. 2. Bernardo Villegas of the University of Asia and the Pacific will open the morning sessions with a discussion on “Employablility as an Indication of Education Success.” Linartes Viloria, CEO of Edukasyon.ph, will follow with a talk on “Fitting in the Future: The New Workforce,” after which there will be panel discussions.

Stephen Hindle, Aon Hewitt regional leader for selection and assessments, will begin the afternoon work with a presentation titled “Certifying for the Future.” Vincent Fabella, president of Jose Rizal University, brings the sessions to a close with a discussion on “Future Ready Partnerships.”

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The education world and the business world are like “two hostile tribes,” according to Harvard education specialist Tony Wagner. “Today, because knowledge is available on every Internet-connected device, what you know matters far less than what you can do with what you know,” Wagner says in his email conversation with New York Times writer Thomas Friedman.

The capacity to innovate—the ability to solve problems creatively or bring new possibilities to life—and skills like critical thinking, communication and collaboration are far more important than academic knowledge. As one executive told me, “We can teach new hires the content, and we will have to because it continues to change, but we can’t teach them how to think—to ask the right questions—and to take initiative.”

Adds Wagner: “Teachers need to coach students to performance excellence, and principals must be instructional leaders who create the culture of collaboration required to innovate. But what gets tested is what gets taught, and so we need ‘Accountability 2.0.’ All students should have digital portfolios to show evidence of mastery of skills like critical thinking and communication, which they build up right through K-12 and postsecondary. Selective use of high-quality tests, like the College and Work Readiness Assessment, is important. Finally, teachers should be judged on evidence of improvement in students’ work through the year—instead of a score on a bubble test in May. We need lab schools where students earn a high school diploma by completing a series of skill-based ‘merit badges’ in things like entrepreneurship. And schools of education where all new teachers have ‘residencies’ with master teachers and performance standards—not content standards—must become the new normal throughout the system.”

Butch Hernandez ([email protected]) is the executive director of the Eggie Apostol Foundation.

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