Take Control of Your Education Now to Prepare for Your Job of the Future

With jobs shifting to remote work amid the threat of the pandemic, many people are now seeking to disperse from densely populated cities. The risk of transmission in our urban centers is high, mainly if you live in a condo with hundreds of tenants sharing elevators and other common areas.

The housing market offers some of the best mortgage rates right now. But before you relocate, consider this: is there a remote-compatible job waiting for you? Research indicates that not all industries or occupations are equal in this respect.

Many remote workers tend to have a college degree and higher incomes. That’s great if you already meet those requirements. Otherwise, what can you do besides hang in there?

Competition in the knowledge economy is stiff, with everyone wanting to work from home. Most schools are still figuring out how to resume operations safely. In the big picture, the question is, how much should education matter to your career when health and safety are at stake?

Education is playing catch-up

The debate surrounding education versus skills is not new. With every batch of students graduating and entering the workforce, advances in technology have continuously created jobs that didn’t exist while they were in school. This explains why so many tech moguls and startup founders never finished college; it wasn’t relevant to their pursuit of success.

The pace of change has only continued to accelerate in recent years. And with it, the gap between the demand for skills and what the educational system can churn out is only growing. Companies are finding that there’s a shortage of skilled workers to meet their needs. College graduates are questioning the value of those four extra years, plus all that student debt. Will the framework of education ever manage to catch up?

The pandemic heralds change

As it has done on so many fronts, Covid-19 brought widespread disruption to our school system. Over a billion students around the world have been forced back home and out of schools. However, this might yet prove to be a blessing in disguise.

Just as the pandemic fast-tracked the adoption of remote work, it can have accelerated the implementation of badly needed changes to our model of education. Acknowledging how difficult it will be to safely accommodate multiple students in a shared physical environment, many institutions have retooled their approach to online learning.

More than ever, specialized courses will become available through this ala carte online model. It makes the system more flexible for students. And it opens up the possibility that traditional degrees with a structured curriculum will become obsolete. Learning will be customizable; you only have to take the classes you need to land a job.

online lesson

Demanding change from the learner

Much-needed change in education is on its way. But institutional adjustments are only part of the solution. We also need to respond and take advantage of those new opportunities as they arrive. And that’s not going to happen without a conscious change on our part.

Whether you’re a student whose school year was cut short, or an employee looking to take the next step in your career, you have to harness the impetus to learn. You need to know and control the instruments of learning.

This includes developing your knowledge faculties, such as memory, imagination, concentration, and critical thinking. It also implies anticipation of needs so that you can align your learning efforts with your desired outcomes.

And it also emphasizes the need to successfully navigate an increasingly digital world. You’ll have to know how to fact-check and verify reliable online sources of information. Crucially, you must learn how to be a responsible digital citizen.

Getting ready now

Those changes shouldn’t wait until the educational system has reformed. We don’t know how long that could take, and it’s likely to be a gradual process. Meanwhile, the days and months are ticking past us.

What have you been doing since the disruption of the pandemic? Most people are merely trying to get by. They put the same effort into their jobs because they are lucky to be still employed in this economy. They devote the same amount of time to leisure activities.

On the whole, people tend to adhere as closely as possible to the old normal. But that won’t be enough if you want to position yourself for future change and advance your career. You need to make the most of this gap and actively pursue opportunities to learn.

Scrap the time spent on TV, social media, video games, and other forms of passive consumption. Use those extra hours each day to sharpen your faculties, and seek out whatever relevant resources you can find online. Become a better learner now and be ready for your job of the future, regardless of when education catches up.

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