4 minute read

The biggest change in the education system comes down to mindset

Erica Orange, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of The Future Hunters, assesses daily upcoming social, technological, economic, political, demographic, and ecological trends for influential Fortune 500 companies and clients in the public sector.

At the Future Tense 2023 conference, Erica Orange spoke about the future of education and its impact on the job market. The greatest challenge and, at the same time, the biggest change that the education system faces lies in the way of thinking. Our school systems are still adapted to our grandparents’ generations instead of building, creating, and nurturing the minds of tomorrow. We should be following the generational shifts in line with the accelerated pace of change that create a sense of time passing faster (“templosion”).



Generation Z

Generational shifts no longer occur every 10-15 years; now they happen every 2-3 years. As we know very little about the emerging generation, the Alpha generation, we focus on Generation Z or, as Erica calls them, Cybrids (cyber hybrids). Representatives of this generation truly practice what they preach, meaning they genuinely value inclusivity and collaboration. Sustainability messages are genuinely important to this generation; they truly want to buy from and work for a company or brand they believe in. This is also a very entrepreneurial generation, but when they enter a company, they want independence as soon as possible.

For education to truly bridge these barriers instead of just applying band-aids, it must take consider the fact that Generation Z is the first generation ever to be born in a symbiotic relationship with technology, no matter what we think about it. The inability of the education system to keep up with these significant changes already impacts the future of work.



The Future of Humans and AI

As all future versions inevitably involve collaboration between humans and smart systems sprouting up everywhere around us (enhanced or so-called augmented intelligence), critical thinking skills will become particularly important. They imply the ability to function in both physical and digital environments.

The education system must take all of this into account while rethinking who, what, how, and where will learn to enable the creation of minds resilient to future stresses. This is especially important considering that 42% of Generation Z members have been diagnosed with some mental disorder, and in 2022, as many as 90% of them reported feeling the effects of stress. Erica sees the solution in finding a balance between technology and reconnecting with nature, a natural reset that is necessary for everyone, especially Generation Z.

There are many challenges ahead for the education system and the job market in the future. In order for the upbringing and education of today’s children to lead to a productive workforce of the future, Erica compared it to the process of reverse diamond transformation. “A diamond is merely a lump of coal that did well under pressure,” alluding to how, even though we may sometimes think that piece of coal is not doing anything, over time and under appropriate conditions, it becomes a resilient and valuable diamond.