Living in a digital epoch is both difficult and easy: difficult because one needs to use a lot of smarts and common sense to survive, and easy because it is full of readily exploitable opportunities. In a nutshell, we can survive only if we are capable of handling the numeric age. So welcome to it, especially the younger generation, no longer associating age with wisdom, experience with success, and wellbeing with formal education.
In the era of numbers, kids often make more money than their parents. On the other hand, the self-same children are in constant need of picking the minds of those grownups who have achieved success not only via their education but their sense of orientation in the cruel world of pragmatism and competition.
Diplomas no longer matter as much as they did before. The skills acquired at universities are not very compatible with the market place. Where, in the recent past, the knowledge of Microsoft Word was just about enough to find a job, today it sounds no more impressive than “being literate.” This is why programming is turning into the most usable skill for a young person, so it probably should be made one of the core subjects at high schools and colleges.
The thing is that literacy is no longer associated with the ability to read and write. Literacy nowadays means having strong computer and programming skills. And the earlier a kid learns, so much the better for all of us. People have to become specialists at an early age: this is one of the most salient characteristic features of our time.
Another question is how good or bad this might be for the children’s fragile nervous system and their immature brains. The outdated patterns of relativity between jobs and qualifications have stopped working effectively. Therefore, the extant useless paradigms will have to be changed into more efficacious ones. For instance, the system of continuous education will work for real within the labor markets of literally every nation, including Georgia, based on which the labor force will be requalified, forgetting about undervalued diplomas and thinking only of matching personal skills and capabilities with current market demands. Numerous disciplines that are being taught in schools will probably drop out of curricula because of their obsolescence in the future. Modern youth can receive education, compatible with their talent and competence, beyond the school walls. Take Georgia, for instance, where the question pops up all the time as to whether the system prepares its kids for future life, guaranteeing their independent survival by turning them into real decision makers and problem solvers.
Another problem in this country is choosing a profession. The most successful among the greatest achievers of our time are telling us that some professions fit better into the future than others, like work in artificial intelligence, programming machines to think like humans and mimic their actions, making our lives more productive and creative. Another good choice is the sector of energy which might help improve the climate and handle poverty quicker. The third one is biological science, which gives us a chance to prolong human life and make it more qualitative.
And still, while considering professional opportunities, I would keep in mind four main preconditions: magnetism, reward, significance, and self-improvement. One of the most important issues to be considered in the academic endeavor is the readiness to master the way to learn, what to learn and why to learn, because employment mostly depends on the quality of our earlier learning.
And speaking about employment as such, it is important for all of us, and not only for ensuring our physical survival, because an unemployed person has no way to feel happy. And to be employed, one needs to be compatible with the labor market, not simply educated. A hiring company needs a job done, not just an enlightened good guy. The attitude towards education cannot be healthier than this, and all these salubrious thoughts come from the greatest pragmatists of our time. We’d better believe them, and duly heed their thoughts!
OP-ED by Nugzar B. Ruhadze