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Unlearning and Relearning: Preparing For Work In A Digital Economy

Unlearning and Relearning: Preparing For Work In A Digital Economy 

It’s been said that the pace of change will never be this slow ever again… We are living in a climate of perpetual disruption; technology developments are changing at an astronomical rate with the challenge that our existing knowledge and skills cannot keep up.  We have a skills gap on our hands. 

Computer Science disciplines like AI are accelerating automation, with technology like Robotic Process Automation augmenting or replacing labour intense, repetitive processes. Driverless cars, delivery drones, robots that fulfil customer orders from warehouses are making humans redundant, and predictive analytics more accurately forecasting future outcomes than humans are able to.  Machine learning makes personalised recommendations on shows to stream and we talk to bots online to resolve a query.   

These developments are changing the nature of the jobs we have and the skills needed to do them, faster than ever before. 

What Skills Do We Need? 

With technology developments changing at such an astronomical pace, it’s hard to bed down what skills are needed for the future.  If technology is changing so fast, how does our learning keep up with that rate of change? 

The ability to learn, unlearn and relearn will be a key behaviour to adopt in preparing for work in a digital economy.  Simplify your learning journey into two buckets: technical skills and human skills.   

Technical Skills 

Today the skills in demand are app and software development,  programming for robots/automation, computer science skills such as data science and analysis, data visualisation and cloud computing.  

Human Skills 

Human skills are arguably the skills that technology can never replace. Critical thinking and skills that approach problem solving, creatively, using empathy, alongside logic and novel thinking.  The ability to be agile and adapt are the soft skills needed to help learners adapt in a constantly changing environment.   

A combination of Technical and Human skills will be a powerful formula to gear yourself up for the future, very few roles in society will require only one of these. 

Develop Your Skills In Bite-Sized Chunks 

Don’t get hung up on the specifics of technical skills.  With technology changing increasingly fast, the shelf life of technical skills is shrinking, raising concerns on skill redundancy.  Your ability to learn, unlearn and relearn in bite-sized chunks, will be key to success.   

The benefit of shorter learning stints isn’t only to benefit jam-packed schedules.  Bite-size approaches to learning results in a greater transfer of knowledge.  Breaking up your learning into snackable pieces of content will be a win-win.   

When you have twenty minutes to spare, watch a YouTube Tutorial on how to code, or a Google Primer short course on Business Insights, Analytics through to Social Media and How to write a creative brief.  For a longer endeavour, a variety of massive open online courses  (MOOCs) are available from Coursera, Udacity, Udemy and eDX. 

A Parting Thought 

Yes, there is lots of change and uncertainty but consider this, 65% of children starting school today will hold jobs that don’t exist yet.  Your commitment to a continuous, learning journey will gear you up for success in a digital world. 


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