Workplace 1-2-3

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Workplace 1-2-3

Today's workplace looks nothing like the workplace of 100 years ago, or even 20 years ago. What people do at work, and how they do it, have changed considerably. As we think about the skills needed for tomorrow's workforce, it may prove useful to look back and analyze how the workplace has changed over time.

Workplace 1.0


150 years ago, people in Brazil and Europe and in China and in the USA worked on the land, outdoors, with hand tools, in small groups. They did not travel far. The work did not change much from generation to generation. Daughters did the same work as their mothers, and their grandmothers, and their mothers before them. With the same tools. They talked as they worked. Same for the sons and fathers and grandfathers. Work groups included both old and young. The technology of work changed slowly. When the tools broke, the people could fix them. We can call this Workplace one dot zero.

Workplace 2.0


Fifty years later, the workplace changed. People went to work in factories, with mechanical tools. They worked in large groups. But they worked alone at their machine. Everybody did the same thing at the same time, all day long. They were not allowed to talk. They used paper and pencil and sat at desks. They were not very happy. And they were closely supervised. Let us call this Workplace two dot zero. This new workplace required a new set of skills, and a new kind of citizen.

Workplace 3.0


Now let us look at the workplace of today, workplace 3 dot zero, very different from the factory. Most people today work in small groups. They solve problems together. They use digital tools. They present new ideas to each other. Robots do the mechanical work. People with clean hands re-program the robots when things go wrong. They work on problems that no one has ever seen before. They must bring to bear chemistry, mathematics, biology, history and literature to solve the problem. They must gather information from many sources, most of it on the network, arriving in many different formats. They must be multi-taskers.They talk with each other. They use digital tools for communication. They work with a wide circle of people, all over the world. Let us call this Workplace three dot zero.

Today's workplace demands people who can work in small groups to solve problems, using digital tools, prepared to perform many different tasks during the day, without close supervision, and with a large circle of connections. Tomorrow's will demand even more of these kinds of skills.

Are your schools preparing students who are ready for Workplace 3.0? Or better yet, Workplace 4.0?

(Adapted from _Education 3.0,_ published by Teacher's College Press, 2013)

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