Forbes | Bernard Marr

Used to be that reading, writing, and arithmetic were all you needed to get by and do well in the world — but that was also around the time that the vast majority of jobs were agricultural, factory work, or service jobs like maids and butlers.

While our society and jobs market has changed drastically since then, our education system has not.  Today, our education system focuses too much on learning facts by heart, rote memorization and basic writing and algebra — all things computers can do much better.

Remember asking your maths teacher why you couldn’t use a calculator in class, and hearing the reply that no one would walk around with calculators in their pockets every day?

Enter the smartphone.  That’s one excuse destroyed.

In my opinion, our schools are filling students’ heads with trivia rather than teaching them skills that are important and useful in the real world.  The popular U.S. TV show, Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader? didn’t prove that adults were dumber than children, but rather that the adults have jettisoned much of the “knowledge” they learned in grade school as being unimportant in daily life.

In truth of fact, the people that will be able to compete for the best jobs in the future will be those who work with and alongside computers and AI, that are able to ask new questions, are creative and innovative and have a high degree of emotional intelligence and social skills (the things that actually make us human). I believe we need to focus more on those skills instead of spoon feeding our kids facts.

According to a survey by The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), these are some of the skills top employers say they are looking for in 2016 — and the ways in which our schools are failing to prepare students to fulfil them:

1. Ability to obtain and process information.

As data becomes more and more important and integral in the workplace, companies will be looking for employees who can hit the ground running when it comes to obtaining and processing that data. This means that it’s much less important to know facts and figures that our current education system emphasizes, than it is to possess the skills to locate and process any kind of information required.

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