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Preparing for uncertain futures

Dawn Lees from the University of Exeter talks about key steps we can take to acquire skills for success in the future workplace.
Hello, I’m here with Dawn Lees from the University of Exeter. And we’re going to be talking about the future of work. Dawn, would you like to introduce yourself to start off with? Hi, Lisa. I’m Dawn Lees, and I’m the work related learning manager here at the University of Exeter. So what are the big changes that you see on the horizon? Well, we know we’re preparing students for jobs that don’t currently exist using technologies that haven’t been developed yet to solve problems that we don’t even know are problems. The pace of technological changes is incredible, and we know that students will be undertaking 10, 14 jobs by the time they’re 38 in a way that we haven’t had to deal with.
So we’re trying to prepare students to cope with that pace of change in the workplace, and you know, bearing in mind that the most in demand jobs in 2010 didn’t even exist in 2004. That kind of shows you the pace of change that we’re dealing with. OK, and what sort of skills do you think people should be focusing on developing? I think crucially, our students need to be developing their enterprising skills. They need to be innovative and creative, be able to solve problems. To be able to communicate, that’s really crucial. And also, I think that kind of ability to reinvent yourself to keep upskilling to keep up pace with the change.
Resilience is going to be absolutely key to adapt to the changing job market, so those resilient skills will be absolutely crucial. OK, so do you have any specific projects you could tell us about that are helping students in this area? We run a whole series of skill sessions. We encourage students to work in an interdisciplinary way, so we run grand challenges where students are able to work in interdisciplinary groups looking at 21st century problems. They are looking at mental health issues, and climate change, for example, global security. We run student start up programme to support students who want to be innovative in enterprising.
There’s a whole raft of activities that we have in an informal curriculum where students can engage with activities. And through those, we’re also trying to promote the sustainability development goals, so that students are aware of how those goals relate to their own personal experiences and the world of work. And why it’s really important that they’re commercially wearing that sense and are able to apply that learning to the job settings. Any particular success stories to report? Well, the one that springs to mind is a recent graduate of ours, Olivia Higgs, who has a mobile app called Compass.
And she has won multinational and international awards for this artificial intelligence app, and it just goes to show that the students that are supported through their learning at the University can go on and have an amazing platform in an international setting. Great, thank you very much, Dawn. Thank you.

Lisa interviews Dawn Lees, Curriculum and Work-Related Learning Manager at the University of Exeter, about the key steps individuals can take to acquire the skills necessary for success in the workplace of the future.

The successful business Dawn refers to which was started by an Exeter graduate, Olivia Higgs, is called Kompas. It is a city exploration app which uses artifical intelligence to recommend local experiences to visitors.

Compare Dawn’s advice with that of the industry leaders we interviewed last week (Step 1.13). Are there any significant similarities or differences in their messages? You can post your thoughts in the comments section below.

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