The world was never flatter
“Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.”
– Niels Bohr
We, humans, haven’t been able to explain, interpret and learn from the past; hence, predicting the future is a long shot. We hope that reflecting our opinions on directions where several industries seem to be heading for in the future, we were familiarising the readers with the trends in most of these areas and the challenges it may entail for students, educators and workforce. Many of these ideas may remain in their infancy for long, while others may flourish sooner than we may have imagined.
For authors, the reflections in the crystal ball are foggy and we may easily imagine them for something that they are not, but since we are trying to think ahead, it will not be too embarrassing to miss the target.
There can be no ‘conclusion’ or ‘way forward’ to this book; it is indeed a beginning for creating higher consciousness about the unprecedented pace, direction and fundamental nature of changes across the globe. And above all, it is an opportunity of a lifetime for children, especially school-going children.
We must emphasise that the opportunity is wide open to all and that is one key message of the book. The Internet has not reversed the incremental nature of innovations witnessed in the past century. Innovations are incremental – around known product or people – and within reach of many more people like never before in history.
Thus, the epilogue to this book will be written on the web through collaborations from all the stakeholders. We invite every reader to build a community at www.facebook.com/careers3.0
The best foot forward for ‘life-time career’
For the 99.98% of the last 10,000 years of agriculture-fed civilisational shift, education was ‘learning by living/doing in the real world’ (including the Indian Gurukuls) that was totally personalised for each child – Education Ver 1.0. In the past 200 years the need for mass-education led to the invention of schools as the formal institutions of education across nations. Schools steadily nudged us towards ‘learning by observing/informing in the (virtual world of) classrooms’ – Education Ver 2.0/School Ver 1.0.
Schools did a splendid job. Schools nannied the epochal rise of the industrial society out of the agricultural society by infusing highly structured, mass-scale specialisation for career choices (far removed from the birth-dictated choices). ‘Unfortunately’, a new epoch – knowledge society – is ready to be nannied! The challenges are far bigger and unique – the rise of knowledge society is 100% global, extremely rapid, all encompassing, among other dimensions. How is it going to be nannied? Welcome Education Ver 3.0/School Ver 2.0 – schools are not going to go away but comprehensively transformed.
Most pertinently, the highly structured, mass-scale specialisation will be replaced by highly flexible, personalised specialisations of career choices. In fact, this bit is fairly obvious, the moot question is – how will the replacement be actualised. Interestingly, an inventive mix of Education Ver 2.0 and Education Ver 1.0 will do the job – highly personalised ‘learning by living/doing in the real world’ on top of a new-age school education that fosters highest flexibility of possible opportunities by nurturing ‘self-learning students’.
In other words, the ideal education will be school-nurtured ‘independent learning achievement’ and post-school apprenticeships in the so-called gap-year(s) before a full-time higher education, if necessary. Expect MOOC-driven courses to evolve to the level of certification towards cumulatively achieving formal higher education ‘degrees’.
To offer a semblance of relevance and practicality, it’s shared that Sandeep, one of the co-authors, and his wife Saloni ‘home educated’ their only child, 17, to be help her become independent learner and she is going to apprentice for years after ‘A level’ (Class XII as a private student from CIE) in 2016. She plans to apprentice in design, film-making, music, creative writing and consumer tech start-up business for at least a couple of years. In case things don’t work out for her to her satisfaction, she will seek formal higher education in her chosen interest from the best university in the world.
In fact, it’s time that we pay for world-class apprenticeship for our ‘self-learning children’ from the ‘higher education fund’; there is learning in both the cases! Write to firstname.lastname@example.org for more.
The secular trend of the new economy
A lot is being talked about, all over the world, about the re-alignment of opportunities in manufacturing for employment with the incumbent leaders like China, Germany, Japan facing the heat. Agriculture is already a great employment generator for the millennials, and the trend in service industry is rather loud and clear – bots are replacing of employees up to the middle management level.
Thus, it would be interesting to round up with the latest in manufacturing by uncovering the developments in the two giants – China and Germany.
Made in China 2025
“Made in China 2025” is designed to transform China from a manufacturing giant into a world manufacturing power. The plan will be followed by another two plans in order to transform China into a leading manufacturing power by the year 2049.
“There are many criteria to judge whether a country is a manufacturing power or not, including industrial scale, optimized industrial structure, sound quality and efficiency and sustainable development, but the key lies in innovation,” according to Li Beiguang, deputy head of MIIT (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology) planning division.
Of all the projects included in the “Made in China 2025” plan, intelligent manufacturing is crucial, according to Miao Wei, Minister of MIIT, adding that the MIIT is taking part in a three-year study on the topic.
Chinese manufacturing accounts for about 20 percent of the world’s total, but it is “far from strong,” according to Li Beiguang.
In Premier Li Keqiang’s words, Beijing wants to go from “Made in China” to “Created in China.”
If you are thinking that China is leading the new wave, here is more:
“Made in China 2025” draws direct inspiration from Germany’s “Industry 4.0” plan, which was first discussed in 2011 and later adopted in 2013. The heart of the “Industry 4.0” idea is intelligent manufacturing, i.e., applying the tools of information technology to production. In the German context, this primarily means using the Internet of Things to connect small and medium-sized companies more efficiently in global production and innovation networks so that they could not only more efficiently engage in mass production but just as easily and efficiently customize products.
Now let’s take a peek into the largest Chinese manufacturer of digital devices – Foxconn – and how it’s leading the Made in China 2025 intent.
In 2014, Mr Terry Gou, Founder, Foxconn, said that the company already had a fully automated factory in the Chinese city of Chengdu that can run 24 hours a day with the lights off. Gou declined to say more about the factory, or what it produced, but Foxconn has been adding 30,000 industrial robots to its facilities each year, he said in June.
Foxconn, which calls its industrial robots Foxbots, has been striving to accelerate manufacturing automation amid rising labor costs and workplace disputes, and to free humans of the dirtiest and most dangerous jobs. But high development costs and rapid changes in technology have slowed progress.
And the reason – “But it is not cost-effective to have a fully-automated production line given the short product cycle of smartphones,” said Ms. Huang, a Daiwa analyst. “Flexibility of workers is still crucial in a fast changing market.”
Indeed, flexibility, not dexterity or knowledge, is still holding fort for humans in manufacturing. Going forward two scenarios stand out:
- Humans win the race against general-purpose robots by being ‘amazing self-learners’ to be very flexible
- Robots win the race against humans by becoming highly flexible on the go (the more likely future in over a decade)