Children and young people are not being adequately prepared for the world of work, because of a lack of creativity, entrepreneurship and innovative teaching in the curriculum, MPs have heard.

Professor Rose Luckin, director of the EDUCATE programme and professor of learner centred design at UCL Knowledge Lab, told the Commons Education Select Committee that inter-disciplinary teaching in schools would address some of the challenges in getting young people ready for a world of work in which machines were threatening their jobs.

She said that while it was impossible to foresee the workplace of the future, there were ways of mitigating the impact of AI which many feared would impact on jobs.

“We need to get industry, academia and education working together, which is what we do on the EDUCATE project, and to tie young people into work experiences with industries in their local area,” Professor Luckin said.

“We cannot predict future of jobs accurately, but we are likely to underestimate entrepreneurship of young people. They will start to develop new businesses that we cannot predict, particularly if we give them the right foundations at school to be entrepreneurial, creative and innovative.

“We need to move to inter-disciplinary academic education because problems are solved by people working together and not just within subject boundaries.” She said skills such as good social interaction and knowledge were crucial, but people needed to   question where knowledge came from and the evidence around it, especially in this time of fake news.

This also meant developing people’s meta-cognitive and self-regulation skills.  “We need to use AI and human intelligence together to provide a rich social interaction that prepares young people for the world of work, because we are not doing that at the moment.”

Professor Luckin, who was questioned by MPs together with Brian Holliday, Managing Director at Siemens Digital Factory, and Joysy John, Director of Education at Nesta, said she did not believe the role of teachers was under threat from machine learning, but the extent to which jobs were at risk “depends how we use AI to match with our human intelligence” and this was something teachers needed to learn.

“AI can help teachers to develop scientific knowledge,” she said. “One of the core skills they will need is understanding of data and evidence as that is what machine-learning and AI feeds on. Educators need to know how to use that data, analysis and evidence to provide those wonderful human interactions to make sure children and adults get the best education.”

Professor Luckin suggested that one way to protect jobs in the future would be to examine the expertise, talents and skill sets of individuals, to find out what other contribution they could make to the workplace other than the job they were employed to do.

She mentioned Freeformers, an EDUCATE cohort, which works with companies to identify individual skills and talents of employees. This helped people to be more positive about their roles, gave a value to what they do and a more positive mindset, she said.

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