23 January 2019
My eye was drawn recently to a tweet from a fellow headteacher which listed the “Hottest Jobs in 2018”, ie the year’s fastest growing job titles. Here are some of them:
Business Intelligence Engineer
Cloud Solutions Architect
Cyber Security Analyst
Data Visualisation Specialist
Digital Marketing Coordinator
Director of Community Engagement
Full Stack Software Developer
Global Mobility Specialist
Machine Learning Engineer
If you’re not entirely sure what some or even all of these jobs entail then I suspect you’re not alone. Like all schools we have to review constantly what we teach you, to ensure that it is relevant to the world of work that you will enter. But this is very hard: while these might be the “hottest jobs” of 2018, the list for 2025 will I’m sure look different: just as most of these jobs didn’t exist when I and many of my colleagues were at school, it’s likely that the jobs (and you will almost certainly have more than one career) that you will do in adult life haven’t been invented yet, especially for the younger members of the school.
This prospect can be terrifying, and can lead schools to try to chase the technological curve. But this is futile: schools’ curriculums can never keep up with the pace of change. It’s important of course that we embrace technology as a school – Google Classroom is fully embedded, we now offer GCSE Computer Science and a new Coding Club is starting – but I believe that we are right to focus more on the transferrable skills that what we call a good liberal education gives you, rather than worrying too much about knowledge which might well be obsolete by the time you enter the world of work. I means skills such as the ability to work independently as well as in team; problem solving, presentation skills; negotiation; self-discipline; the ability to assimilate and understand complex data (a Shakespeare play; a chapter on the Russian Revolution; Virgil’s Latin poetry; complex equations, population statistics in Geography; St Thomas Aquinas’ theology), to pick out the important information, synthesise it and represent it in a more economical form. Essentially we are trying to teach you two things:
To get on with people
I can’t remember much of the Russian history I studied for A level, and I’d struggle to remember the subjunctive mood of all the French verbs I used to know, but I think studying those subjects taught me skills that I use every day in my working life.