I would like to applaud the authorities and industry leaders for the ongoing efforts to prop up the economy by preparing the younger generation for the future of work. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the world has been undergoing a seismic shift towards digitalisation.
However, it worries me that the current education system is not up to the task of moulding these youngsters for what lies ahead. For example, the fact that there is currently a “no child left behind” policy means that weaker students are made to believe that they are deserving of moving to the next level despite doing poorly in tests and exams. With no retention of students, it puts pressure on teachers to teach a class of students with varying knowledge and comprehensive skills.
What is more concerning is how ill-prepared these individuals would be for the real world.
Throughout school years, they have been shown that doing poorly in school has no consequences; as a matter of fact, they will be rewarded with a promotion to the next level.
Apply such a distorted view to an office setting, and we get employees who think that they deserve a fat pay rise every year for just showing up.
With the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) program ChatGPT, we are reminded that the future of work may be less than five years away. What ChatGPT has shown us is that there is a program out there that can do a lot of traditionally human tasks better than us. So if a teacher is used to teaching the same materials, year in, year out, perhaps ChatGPT can easily replace the person; or even perform teaching tasks more efficiently, with no need for sick days or vacation time.
If we haven’t figured out how to incorporate AI into our economy by now, we are already late to the party. As a proponent of localisation, I want to see our country thrive. I want to see talented individuals being valued and nurtured, and in time, become instrumental in helping the country change for the better. But if the whole-of-nation approach is how to help us get there, perhaps the authorities should start with ensuring the way we mould our younger generation through education is aligned with the future of work.