The technologist in all of us: How education is being shaped by the future of jobs

The job demands of the future are going to require us all to be technologists, meaning education needs to become more practical, flexible and challenging, according to UK think tank New Engineering Foundation (NEF).

In a report released on Wednesday entitled ‘Inventing the Future’, the organisation highlighted a need for “urgent transformation” to tackle the increasing presence of technology in almost every job.

In an interview with Factor, report lead author and NEF founder and CEO Professor Sa’ad Medhat explained the importance of technology.

“We are really strongly and seriously advocating that every one of us is going to be, in the future, a technologist,” he said.

work-2

Medhat explained how technology would have an impact on every field, and that being able to adapt and change to new developments was essential to future work success.

“The technologist is a generic occupation that it brings that traversability, that intraoperability, that ability to embrace different contexts and different situations and tackle different situations,” he said.

He said that this would have a key impact on what students need to learn before entering the workforce, explaining how what university-level students learn now is what students aged 17-18 will need to learn in the future.

“You wouldn’t appoint anybody today unless they have the full digital knowledge of using all the associated office automation and beyond, and a bit of social media, and a bit of coding,” he said.

“This is expected; it’s the norm. It’s no longer nice to have. So the whole thing would be compressed even further.”

work-1

To tackle this, Medhat and the NEF are proposing significant changes to the UK’s education system, with the reintroduction of polytechnic institutions.

The original polytechnics were mostly established in the 1960s, and were to technical, professional and practical occupations what universities are to academia. However, these institutions have since been converted into universities, leading many to move away from practical, hands-on subjects.

These new polytechnics would be regional, and offer courses based on the current skills needs in those areas. Curriculums would be ever evolving according to current technology and trends, and would provide flexible training tailored to each student.

In order to fund these institutions, Medhat has proposed that they be largely crowd sourced, with businesses funding courses that they needed people to be trained in.

“Using the concept of the Indiegogo and the Kickstarter philosophy if you like, the LEP [local enterprise partnership, the UK’s regional partnerships between business and government] will provide the baseline, so if you need a facility in advanced manufacturing, or a biotech facility, and it will cost a few million pounds, let’s say the LEP will put the baseline funding of £1m and say ok, if you want these skills here, you can be part of that funding mechanism, you can influence that programme development and you are part and parcel of this,” explained Medhat.


Featured image courtesy of Opensource.com.


Wanted man captured thanks to facial recognition

A Chinese man who was wanted by police for “economic crimes” – which can include anything from tax evasion to the theft of public property – was arrested at a music concert in China after facial recognition technology spotted him inside the venue.

Source: Abacus News

SpaceX president commits to city-to-city rocket travel

SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell has reiterated the company’s plans to make city-to-city travel — on Earth — using a rocket that’s designed for outer space a reality. Shotwell says the tech will be operational “within a decade, for sure.”

Source: Recode

Businessman wins battle with Google over 'right to be forgotten'

A businessman fighting for the "right to be forgotten" has won a UK High Court action against Google.. The businessman served six months’ in prison for “conspiracy to carry out surveillance”, and the judge agreed to an “appropriate delisting order".

Source: Press Gazette

UK launched cyber attack on Islamic State

The UK has conducted a "major offensive cyber campaign" against the Islamic State group, the director of the intelligence agency GCHQ, Jeremy Fleming, has revealed. The operation hindered the group's ability to co-ordinate attacks and suppressed its propaganda.

Source: BBC

Goldman Sachs consider whether curing patients is bad for business

Goldman Sachs analysts have attempted to tackle the question of whether pioneering "gene therapy" treatment will be bad for business in the long run. "Is curing patients a sustainable business model?" analysts ask in a report entitled "The Genome Revolution."

Source: CNBC

Four-armed robot performing surgery in the UK

A £1.5m "robotic" surgeon, controlled using a computer console, is being used to shorten the time patients spend recovering after operations. The da Vinci Xi machine is the only one in the country being used for upper gastrointestinal surgery.

Source: BBC

Virgin Galactic rocket planes go past the speed of sound

Virgin Galactic completed its first powered flight in nearly four years when Richard Branson's space company launched its Unity spacecraft, which reached supersonic speeds before safely landing. “We’ve been working towards this moment for a long time,” Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said in an email to Quartz.

Source: Quartz

Google employees protest being in "the business of war"

Thousands of Google employees, including dozens of senior engineers, have signed a letter protesting the company’s involvement in a Pentagon program that uses AI to interpret video imagery and could be used to improve the targeting of drone strikes. The letter, which is circulating inside Google, has garnered more than 3,100 signatures

Source: New York Times

Computer system transcribes words users “speak silently”

MIT researchers have developed a computer interface that transcribes words that the user verbalises internally but does not actually speak aloud. The wearable device picks up neuromuscular signals in the jaw and face that are triggered by internal verbalisations — saying words “in your head” — but are undetectable to the human eye.

Source: MIT News

Drones could be used to penalise bad farming

A report by a coalition of environmental campaigners is arguing squadrons of drones should be deployed to locate and penalise farmers who let soil run off their fields. Their report says drones can help to spot bad farming, which is said to cost more than £1.2bn a year by clogging rivers and contributing to floods.

Source: BBC

Californian company unveil space hotel

Orion Span, a California company, has unveiled its Aurora Station, a commercial space station that would house a luxury hotel. The idea is to put the craft in low-earth orbit, about 200 miles up, with a stay at the hotel likely to cost $9.5 million for a 12-day trip, but you can reserve a spot now with an $80,000 deposit.

UK mobile operators pay close to £1.4bn for 5G

An auction of frequencies for the next generation of mobile phone networks has raised £1.36bn, says regulator Ofcom. Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three all won the bandwidth needed for the future 5G mobile internet services, which are not expected to be launched until 2020.

Source: BBC