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Mindset change towards technology and education needed

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Singapore's education system undergoing shifts to cope with changing workforce demands

Singapore has drawn up a detailed digital economy framework comprising 23 Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs) and Industry Digital Plans to support digitalisation across industries.

The Global Ready Talent Programme, announced during Budget 2019, is one of the many measures presented to businesses in the hopes of bridging the gap between education and the demands of an evolving workforce.

Educators and educational institutions in the country have the responsibility to equip students - the workforce of the future - with the necessary skills to meet the changing needs of the economy.

Recognising this, Singapore's education system is going through a range of shifts to cope with the changing demands of the workforce.

By 2023, all primary schools will have applied learning programmes to nurture innovation and creativity in the younger generation.

Secondary schools, too, will move away from streaming towards subject-based banding.

Both these changes go to the root of how education and learning have evolved, and will continue to in the coming years.

Key competencies of the 21st century workforce

Some of the most in-demand soft skills employers are looking for today include creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability and time management.

Incorporating these skills into the learning environment will bring students on a journey of self-discovery.

They will learn to strike a balance between understanding technicalities, making judgment and driving social awareness, leaving no child behind as they enter the workforce.

Technology influencing how we live and the work we do

Globally, 20 per cent of jobs that exist today will no longer be in existence by 2030 due to the adoption of new and emerging technologies.

Educators need to acknowledge this workplace transformation by incorporating different teaching methods and experiences which present students the opportunity to develop entirely new skillsets.

The first step in cultivating new skillsets is to be more flexible and open towards the definition of 'education' by moving away from simply learning within the classroom.

Schools are already considering and introducing alternative, skill-based methods that focus on academics while addressing each student's strengths and interests.

An example of this is the introduction of robotics and computer coding in school where $2.8 million was set aside by the Ministry of Education in 2014 to develop students in these fields.

By 2016, nearly all 120 secondary schools had embarked on similar applied learning programmes for students to develop character and skills in sports, art, entrepreneurship, science or technology.

The announcement of full subject-based banding to take over streaming in secondary schools by 2024 will completely revolutionise the education system.

Revolutionising the student experience with technology

Soft skills need to be complemented with necessary technical or hard skills.

Technology and digital literacy is one such key hard skill. Students today need to be exposed to technology and disruption within their daily curriculum from an early age.

Regardless of the industry they enter, technology will be used by companies to become more efficient and productive.

We should be creating the best environment for a student to gain new perspectives, discover their strengths and ready themselves for the digital world.

The writer is co-founder and chairman, Global Schools Foundation.