Fine Wines

South African Country Life - - In This Issue -

Wine­maker Hannes Nel of Lourens­ford

ar­ti­sanal skills passed on via ap­pren­tice­ships, em­ploy­ers sought a large pool of em­ploy­ees who could work in a man­u­fac­tur­ing plant or do cler­i­cal work. What they needed was a stan­dard­ised set of skills based on com­pli­ance and speed to mas­ter gen­eral ac­tions, not spe­cial­ist ones.

This pro­duc­tion line model boosted pro­duc­tiv­ity to un­prece­dented lev­els and, by hav­ing the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem mir­ror the value of com­pli­ance and ac­cu­racy, al­lowed large groups of stu­dents to be trained ef­fi­ciently to be part of our new in­dus­tri­alised world.

When sub­se­quent in­dus­trial changes cre­ated the in­for­ma­tion age, the model for tra­di­tional ed­u­ca­tion be­gan to di­verge from the skills most re­quired. Rather than be­gin to change ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion, we made ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion the new pro­ducer of skilled can­di­dates for the grow­ing pro­fes­sional class of worker that would pro­vide ser­vices rather than prod­ucts. It has worked, just.

Now though there is an­other shift un­der­way. Some may re­fer to it as In­dus­try 4.0, the

4th In­dus­trial Revo­lu­tion or sim­ply the con­se­quence of the ad­vances in com­put­ing power. Machines us­ing a spe­cial kind of pro­gram that al­low it to solve a prob­lem in a way sim­i­lar to how hu­mans do.

For tasks that are dan­ger­ous, dirty or just dull (the three ds), our abil­ity to use machines to save hu­mans hav­ing to do those tasks raises two chal­lenges.

New forms of play for new jobs

A plan needs to be de­vised for those cur­rently in ca­reers with sig­nif­i­cant el­e­ments of the three ds men­tioned. Firstly, se­cu­rity, front­line re­tail, min­ing and more lay­ers of ad­min­is­tra­tive work like bank­ing or the civil ser­vice will be bet­ter served us­ing dig­i­tal op­tions and au­to­ma­tion. The sec­ond step is to adapt ba­sic and ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion to pro­duce the em­ployee that will still be needed.

Those fields ei­ther re­quire hu­man in­ter­ac­tion and care like nurs­ing and teach­ing; or prob­lem solv­ing, ne­go­ti­a­tion and man­age­ment skills.

Hu­mans are more than ca­pa­ble of mak­ing the switch. To il­lus­trate, in the 1800s as much as 90 per cent of hu­man labour was en­gaged in agri­cul­ture, but to­day less than 10 per cent pro­duces all the food needed for a global pop­u­la­tion that is seven times the size it was only 200 years ago.

But there is a catch – the change is hap­pen­ing faster than be­fore. Rather than wit­ness­ing a cen­tury or even 50 years of in­cre­men­tal change, we have al­ready seen more in the last 20 years than the pre­vi­ous 50.

The an­swer lies in how we re­spond. Play is the best an­swer. Golfers and run­ners will tell you that play­ing helps them fo­cus and solve prob­lems. You may get to see prob­lems in a new light by get­ting away into the coun­try, for a fresh per­spec­tive to give you new in­sight. We need to take that play­time and make it part of our never-end­ing per­sonal ed­u­ca­tion.

The World Eco­nomic Fo­rum reck­ons you may be in a new ca­reer ev­ery five years from now on. Con­sider your own ca­reer. Odds are you are do­ing some­thing quite dif­fer­ent to what you stud­ied and quite likely are gen­er­at­ing value in a way that did not ex­ist when you irst started work­ing.

We need new ways to add to our skills through ad­di­tional ways to play/learn and you should help your chil­dren to do the same. En­cour­age their cu­rios­ity in all things and let them fo­cus on as­pects they love (even if it ini­tially looks like it is just play­ing com­puter games).

Ask about what is so fas­ci­nat­ing, how would they make some­thing bet­ter. Solv­ing prob­lems that don’t seem­ingly have an­swers may sound crazy, but un­solv­able prob­lems don’t ex­ist for kids. Even though their so­lu­tions don’t work, the les­son is why it failed, not what the right an­swer was.

In time, the fail­ures will be re­placed by op­tions that just may work, crazy though they may be. Those so­lu­tions are far more likely to be needed than learn­ing a bunch of facts or cor­rect an­swers that could be eas­ier stored in a ma­chine and re­trieved when needed.

Ath­letes once again ap­pear to be on the right track. Con­sider how a pro­fes­sional ath­lete trains by set­ting a goal and work­ing on mak­ing ad­just­ments and prac­tis­ing the skill to im­prove a score or lower a time. Ath­letes are ef­fec­tively only ever play­ing. The best are not only good, they love it too. We all need to adopt that mind­set, not to beat an op­po­nent, but to im­prove on our own best time, do­ing some­thing we both have an ap­ti­tude for and have a love for.

The fu­ture is not about a ma­chine apoca­lypse. Hu­mans have al­ready over­come the toils of food pro­duc­tion to cre­ate a so­ci­ety where travel and recre­ation is at an all-time high. Tak­ing the next steps by adapt­ing how we play might see us res­cue hu­mans from unin­spir­ing work un­der­taken sim­ply be­cause it is a job.

But it will only suc­ceed if, this Christ­mas, your choice of toys will see your child be­gin to play in a way to em­brace their nat­u­ral cu­rios­ity and help them to dis­cover the job that may not ex­ist yet that they are go­ing to look for­ward to in­vent­ing over and over again.

We will all play in the fu­ture, our jobs will de­pend on it.

ABOVE: I just want to say one word to you. One word. Bat­ter­ies. The fu­ture of toys is pow­ered. They will not re­place the tra­di­tional toy, but as our lives be­come more re­liant on bat­tery pow­ered de­vices, so too will toys.

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