This article is part of the Forum Network series on Digitalisation
The increasingly digital and data-driven world promises to boost inclusive and sustainable growth and well-being through innovation and efficiency. However, just because the ideas and the technologies are there does not mean they will automatically materialise.
Launched in January 2017, the OECD’s Going Digital project aims to help policy makers better understand ongoing digital transformation and create policy environments that enable their economies and societies to prosper.
With the overarching theme “What Brings Us Together”, the OECD Forum took place at the OECD Conference Centre in Paris and focused on the core underpinnings of international co-operation: the values, aspirations, hopes, concerns, anxieties and spaces that can bring us together. At a time where we find ourselves divided and disconnected, it is salutary to remind ourselves of how much we share and what is to be gained by working together to turn aspirations for better jobs, health and education into reality. The Forum was an opportunity for 4,000 participants from 73 countries and 238 speakers to discuss the most pressing challenges that people face, focusing on those that cannot be solved alone and the need for international co-operation to be “rebooted” in the era of digitalisation.
Almost any business leader will tell you how new technologies such as robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) are changing how their business works. But the real question is whether employees are able to effectively use technologies to work smarter, and these challenges are further complicated by market uncertainty and tough economic conditions.
It is in everyone’s best interests that the technology they use to get their work done does not let them down; yet, 47% of employees still question whether their workplace technology truly enables greater productivity. I urge business leaders to question the areas of:
Collaboration – Is your team making effective, collective choices? Could technology help them make more informed and better decisions?
Data – How quickly can staff access and analyse the information they need, when they need it? Could automation take out some of the heavy lifting in this process?
Flexibility - How easy is it for employees to work outside the traditional office setup? Is there untapped potential lying outside of a 9-5 office-based organisation? Are resources set-up effectively to ease working offsite?
The digital workplace allows businesses to rethink traditional processes and increase efficiency in areas ranging from human resources and core business applications to e-mail, instant messaging and enterprise social media and virtual meeting tools. While you may be closer to having a digital workplace than you think, as the workplace continues to evolve and employee expectations shift, organisations that do not embrace the digital workplace risk falling behind.
All organisations have a digital toolbox comprising of the tools and technologies their employees need to do their jobs. Ideally, strategies and goals of a digital workplace initiative should determine which tools belong in your digital toolbox. With some estimates suggesting nearly half of existing jobs will be eliminated by automation in the next 20 years, poor and uneducated people are shut out of the new economy by a lack of internet access.
Failing to prepare workers who lose their jobs to automation will foster social instability and will cause the digital revolution to widen the gap between haves and have-nots and erode the already-frayed trust between governments, companies and citizens.
Typically, education is one of the last industries to make extensive change but, through the digital transformation and rise of educational technology, teachers have begun to make drastic changes to their instruction, assessments, even the physical make-up of their classrooms and at a much faster rate than expected.
Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General at the OECD states that tomorrow’s schools will need to help students think for themselves and join others, with empathy, in work and citizenship. Mr. Schleicher writes that to transform schooling at scale, we need not only a radical, alternative vision of what is possible but also smart strategies and effective institutions that can make changes in a timely manner to keep up with a fast-moving world. Mr. Schleicher further writes that even the best education minister can no longer do justice to the needs of millions of students, hundreds of thousands of teachers and tens of thousands of schools. The challenge is to build on the expertise of our teachers and school leaders and enlist them in the design of superior policies and practices, requiring a carefully crafted enabling environment that can unleash teachers’ and schools’ ingenuity and build capacity for change. It requires leaders who are sincere about social change, imaginative in policy making and are capable of using the trust they earn to delivery effective reforms.
The future direction of digital transformation is uncertain. Policy makers must understand the core aspects of the transformation and identify a policy mix that will enable their economies to maximise the benefits of an increasingly digital global economy and adequately address the related challenges. One of the challenges is to make the school structures able to handle the transformation.
Originally published in Lucubrates magazine
|Future of Education & Skills|