Former Chairman of IoD Scotland Raymond O’Hare, whose independent non-executive director/advisory portfolio includes being a board member of the SQA, tells tech industry commentator Bill Magee how no industry, no profession, no area in fact, is untouched by the ‘blistering pace’ of new technologies, and how their quite profound impact is being experienced by all in the vital digital skills arena.
Every one of our digital lives has changed over the past five years as a result of how technology has evolved and we have all embraced such change. In fact, we’ve been hungry for more such changes – to make our lives easier, simpler, more convenient and in many cases more enjoyable.
When that happens at a population and society level, it doesn’t matter what industry you are in. You simply have to raise your game and think differently and this represents a challenge for all of us. People who resist change or ignore the factors disrupting their industry are often accused of looking through the wrong end of the telescope. That may seem a bit harsh.
However, as respected authors Stephen J. Gill and David Grebow, in their The Future of Learning is Not Training claim: ‘We know from experience that change is hard. We tend to grab onto the past and use it to design the future. That is a profound failure of imagination.’
So, we are living in a very different world from just a few years ago, never mind 10 or 20 years ago.
What do the following jobs all have in common: mobile app developer; wind farm engineer; cloud services manager, chief story teller, and chief listener?
The answer is, of course, they did not exist a decade ago. And, of course, I could similarly list a whole bunch of roles that we could have trained people for in many different situations over the years which do not exist as jobs anymore.
Clearly it’s not enough to generate a bunch of qualifications certificates (on paper) and for these to be the only currency between the employers, universities, colleges, training providers and an individual.
We know that qualifications are still important and will continue to be so, and of course the quality and integrity of these qualifications will always be a critical factor.
But they are only one important element in a bigger picture as there are now so many sources of information about a person’s qualities, abilities and performance. Just think about Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Digital badges. The list is ever-growing.
We need to figure out what the relationship is between qualifications and certification – and these other sources of information I highlight above – and proof of learning. There is a real need for all of us to think differently about what we each do as organisations.
Also, how we work better together to meet the needs of learners and employers alike. Now is the time for each one of us to focus on why we do what we so, and not just on ‘what we do’ as this will help us to respond more effectively to the changes that are happening.
Going back to the Gill and Grebow paper: they talk about mobile learning, micro-learning, social learning and about learning apps being ubiquitous now plus they also talk about gamification being available for everything.
It’s one example of how, at times, there needs to be a disruptive idea that lights up the crystal ball and makes us look at the future in a new way.
Now, obviously, this is not all going to happen at once and of course, there will be a place for organisations who can both deliver training for the new skills that are required, in the new jobs and careers that have emerged and will keep emerging – as well as for the increased skills needed for the jobs which exist today but which are also evolving and changing. However, we must be all tuned into what’s coming next. It’s up to US to disrupt the market before someone else disrupts it for us!
So, the challenge is there for each of us to think differently. We are operating in a changing world with a new and different generation of people who do things differently. We – in turn – need to do things differently.
Raymond O’Hare liaised with SQA’s Head of Assessment Futures Martyn Ware, with the above both reflecting on and complementing a Technical Briefing that IoD Fellow and Chief Executive of Exception Scott McGlinchey gave earlier this year.