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Skills & Employability

AxelS's picture
Submitted by AxelS on Thu, 2012-05-10 21:27

The close relation between Skills and Employment level has a rather deep root in the ability to acquire skills in the first place. The ability to acquire skills is called learning :) Sorry to sound so academic ~~~

Active and enforced learning starts at age 6. Kids get "tortured" for 12 or so years to a point that learning is one of their worst experience so far. Many people stop active learning at around age 28 and from then on only learn be doing - often forced to do something that eventually has a learning effect. By age 40 if you don't know what you need to know to do an excellent job, you are quickly considered a looser - meaning admitting you need to learn is not an option. By age 45 your brain is now conditioned for about 35 years - every single day in your life - that learning is a pain, so that you just refuse to learn whenever you have the option. By now it is not an intellectual problem but a psychological issue. By now retraining a person is almost impossible. Now the most called argument for unemployment is "age discrimination" ... ;)

On the other side of the coin: High school drop offs, kids who were really bad at school because they had too much fun and didn't care about learning mostly turn out to be very successful in their business - because at one point they DECIDE to learn and developed skills to do that.

I believe we could invest all the available money on the planet, yet have no significant result unless we change the way we treat and apply learning - staring at school.

Now I wonder - how much do you love to learn something new and how easily can you let go some of the experience you have?

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ian_cli's picture
Submitted by ian_cli on Fri, 2012-05-11 11:19

I completely disagree that its 'almost impossible' to retrain someone over 45. Its entirely about approach. I do agree that many people are conditioned out of learning, and most 'learn by doing', but there are tens of thousands of over 45s who learn new skills in adult education centres, libraries and NGOs (all are what what we could call telecentres) across Europe every week. You must recognise willingness to learn in the approach to teaching, but actually in my experience over 45s are more willing to try to learn than younger people, but employment is the strongest motivator. People absolutely need support to restart learning and this does take resources, and recognition of motivation, but it is certainly possible.

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nabeth.thierry's picture
Submitted by nabeth.thierry on Fri, 2012-05-11 11:35

For information, there is a lot of work aimed at looking at transforming education in a way that is more engaging.

Some examples of reports:
* EC/JJRC/IPTS: The Future of Learning: Preparing for Change.
* OECD/CERI: Innovating to Learn, Learning to Innovate.,3746,en_21571361_49995565_41656455_1_1_...
* etc.

There are a lot of ideas now about transforming education such as social learning & learning 2.0 (making use of social media), serious games, etc. and for instance I currently observe a number of efforts done at the level of the Universities.
One of the main challenge is how to make educational institution to incorporate the new educational models (and that does not mean getting rid of the old ones, but finding some way to articulate the two), including how to evaluate learning.

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nabeth.thierry's picture
Submitted by nabeth.thierry on Fri, 2012-05-11 12:20

Concerning the ability for people to learn later in life, I would also suggest to look at the perspective provided by Neuroscience.

In particular neuroscience has helped to identify myths about learning.

An expert on the subject:
Paul Howard-Jones

Very interesting presentation of Paul Howard-Jones:
* Dr Paul Howard-Jones - Neuroscience, Games & Learning.

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AxelS's picture
Submitted by AxelS on Fri, 2012-05-11 12:47

@Ian - I'm not saying it is impossible but almost. And on a global scale you must agree that retraining elderly is by far the biggest problem. I think it doesn't help to say it is possible in only some cases - if the majority of the older generation is suffering. While there may be thousands that make it - there are millions that don't - hence my voice for those millions to rethink education in the beginning - rather than put on duct tape in the end :)

In any case I applaud to your engagement of helping retrain the older generation because that is what we can do here and now!

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Frits Bussemaker's picture
Submitted by Frits Bussemaker on Fri, 2012-05-11 16:02

Completely agree - again referring to Singapore: 3% of all education art primary level is ICT enabled. I.e. normal eSkills are just assumed.

One can only assume that this will also mean more kids interested in going into the ICT profession.

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Frits Bussemaker's picture
Submitted by Frits Bussemaker on Fri, 2012-05-11 16:18

A personal observation. Over the last couple of years I've been a sounding board for a number of friends, people who have an IT related position and are/were about to loose their job. When discussing their next step and how they see their own qualities, it often strikes me that a number of these people have no clue what there real skills are. They focus on 'formal' eSkills and miss out on mentioning their qualifications in management, commercial and communication skills. I.e. skills also needed to sell their own eSkills.

I.e. could it be that we might have more eSkills available then we assume? I realize this is very much generalizing the nerd image.

So, could part of the solution be in training communication skills?

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AxelS's picture
Submitted by AxelS on Fri, 2012-05-11 19:23

Frits - you touch an interesting point. And I guess you are spot on with helping communication skills. We touch that in the Social Media classes and it is absolutely stunning to see the difference between 20somethings (no communication skills yet), 30 somethings (very self confident) and 40 somethings (very introverted and shy)

And in addition to that, it would be very important to help people make a reality or sanity check about the relevancy of their skills. I see people completely underestimate the importance of some of their their skills and at the very same time totally overestimate the importance of some of the other skills they have.

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AxelS's picture
Submitted by AxelS on Fri, 2012-05-11 19:25

By the way - I believe that all our age discrimination laws and protection is the worst that could happen to the older generation. Since years not a single person would get an honest answer why they were not hired. Zero learning to adopt. :(

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miguel.gonzalez-sancho-bodero's picture
Submitted by miguel.gonzalez... on Sun, 2012-05-13 10:45

Interesting debate indeed. Age is one (important) attribute of a person but it's not all. Presumed incapacity to deal with ict developments has been often used as a justification to get rid of older empoyees. I guess there were other reasons like the fact that those employees tend to be more expensive, and maybe no willingness to try and retain them. Thierry's post on neuroscience is interesting in that respect. An age-optimistic view is that as we age our capacities don't simply diminish but change, eg we react more slowly but gain in experience, etc. The optimum skills mix changes from one profession and situation to another, eg for a chirurgist doctor experience is more important ability than rapidity. Now the question: when it comes to ict related professions and tasks, are younger people consistently (and on average of course) better than older people? Can distinctions be made in that regard between categories of ict professions or tasks?

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AxelS's picture
Submitted by AxelS on Tue, 2012-05-15 13:55

- Health engineers
People who are working the engineering aspect of health and age development. Genetics and computer science.

- Social presence management consultants
Helping individuals or businesses to build an appropriate, secure, and meaningful social media presence.

- Energy Consultants
People who help small / medium businesses reduce energy consumption and cost.

- Age management consultants
Helping people to deal with the rapidly growing life expectancy - we may turn 100-120 on average even the current generations - how can people manage that if their retirement plans end at an age of 85 or 90.

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servilleta's picture
Submitted by servilleta on Tue, 2012-06-12 13:13

I agree,
This is the challenge...

The jobs of the future, with a name or other ... experts can show us the guidelines...(at least part of them).
The key is how we can prepare the youth, and "goldenworkers" to respond in competitive environments, changing global and high digital content around their social and working life.
Maybe you can find clues here ...

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