Skills and the Future of Work

This is a presentation on the future of skills for NAIT / SAIT  given on February 23rd. It links to another on The Future of Work


Here is the presentation on the future of work, given at The Little Club on March 3rd, 2017:


The Precarious Future of Public Education

In a variety of jurisdictions around the world, the global education reform movement (GERM) is winning the political argument and gradually dismantling public education. In the US a renewed commitment to vouchers, charter schools and school choice is being promoted by the Trump administration; in Britain, the growth of selective schools and the dismantling of higher education through GERM based legislation is occurring; in the emerging economies of the world, private sector and private interests are steering education in a great many countries, despite the urgent need for equity to be a driver of public policy (Murgatroyd and Sahlberg, 2016).

The challenge of these developments is that they will lead to the reduction in the number, quality and sustainability of public schools, reduce the opportunities afforded to all students and challenge teachers to defend their profession.

With the growth of modular, online, analytics-driven learning and the emergence of artificial intelligence supported teaching systems, teachers will be challenged to defend their roles and demonstrate their abilities through tightening accountability systems which are based on a specific understanding of what teaching is for: enabling a learner to complete an assessment. Accountability regimes will be used to demonstrate efficacy and the teachers’ and student voice will not be heard.

Those who defend the idea of education as a rich, authentic journey to find and develop the passions and interests of each learner – the “beautiful risk of education” (Biesta, 2013) – or envisage an education which is based on powerful relationships between knowledge, teacher and learner (Winnitoy, 2015) will find themselves challenged to demonstrate the value they add to standardized tests. As governments respond to the “skills agenda” and the “skills gap”, we can expect a strong focus on competency, capability and assessment in the emerging curriculum developments around the world.

We face a moment when the adaptive capacity and resilience of public schools will be tested and when we must both defend the principles of public education while at the same time responding to emerging shifts and changes in the student population, the teaching profession and technology.

It will be a difficult time. The principles of resiliency in nature can help us better understand how to anticipate and manage a different future. While we need to conserve some aspects of public education, we also need to release ourselves from some of its burdens – bureaucracy, centralized control systems (including at the district level) – and let schools reorganize themselves for growth.

Building the adaptive capacity of schools and supporting schools in their desire to be masters of their own destiny, with support from peers and the profession, is a way of ensuring the future of public education.


Biesta, G.J.J. (2013) The Beautiful Risk of Education. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers.

Holling, C. S. (1973) Resilience and stability of ecological systems. Annual Review of Ecological Systems 4:1–23.

Murgatroyd, S. and Sahlberg, P. (2016) The Two Solitudes of Educational Policy. Journal of Learning for Development, Volume 3(3), pages 9 – 21.

Winnitoy, W. (2015) Toward a New Era of Learning – Untangling Our Next Public Education. New York: Lulu Press.

Video Resources

Here is a video of me talking about productivity: