The Workers of Tomorrow Can Thrive in a Data Driven World

As students across the country tear open their A-level results today, it’s interesting to reflect how many of the children in school today will work in jobs that don't exist yet.

Why? Because we are seeing a rapid and fundamental realignment in how our economy is powered - from an industrial based system, to one based on data and information - in what’s known as the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’.

There’s no denying that the three revolutions before it affected great transformation - and this one is no different. We are seeing the way we work undergoing a major shift, with jobs evolving and adapting rapidly to meet this data driven climate. Indeed, our recent research found that 63% of businesses are looking for employees that can demonstrate their ability to use, work with and analyse data.

Obviously, the key to harnessing the full potential of this new era is ensuring that our future workforce is confident in their ability to read, work with, analyse, and argue with data. So, how well are we doing?

Well on paper, not particularly well with our research finding that fewer than one fifth of 16-24 year olds in the UK have confidence in their data literacy ability.

This may seem surprising to those of us who have viewed the younger generations as “digital natives”, au fait with all aspects of technology - but it makes sense when you consider data literacy as much more than the ability to crunch numbers.

Being able to understand data and turn it into usable information, requires collaboration, creativity, awareness, and critical thinking – all skills that young people should be picking up and learning in a variety of different environments, not just the school system. Moreover, we need this development to be collaborative – the tech industry and business leaders need to work with the Government and educators alike to enact this change.

Businesses must ensure that there is a seamless transition from the school system to the world of work, and that the incoming generation of workers are continuing their data education throughout their working lives. This will ensure that they are not only able to work effectively alongside emerging technology such as AI, but also able to understand when to question the insights provided by this technology in the ongoing fight against bias in AI.

It’s only through instilling this culture of continuous improvement and ongoing education that we can ensure the next generation have the demonstrable skills in working with data (not just educational qualifications) in order to reap the rewards of this new era.

Well done and congratulations to all those who got the results they were hoping for today. To those that didn’t, just remember that this is just the start of your journey.

We wish you all every success for the future.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is here – are we ready for it? Read more from @jamesafisher as he explores why businesses, governments and educators must all work together to ensure the workforce of the future is #dataliterate.


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