The conversation on The Future of Work has already started and in some countries steps have been taken to that effect.

Stanbic Bank Incubator, a 3rd gen business incubator, est by Stanbic Bank in promoting entrepreneurship among the youth and women in Africa lead the conversation on Twitter reaching audiences across all of Africa to find answers to how the fourth revolution will impact how work is approached in future.

Kwame A.A. Opoku, a well known futurist shared some insights on the topic.

The first edition the #SBChat hosted by @SBIncubatorGH on Twitter took place on Friday, 31st August commenced at 19:00 GMT and went beyond expectation as Futurist Kwame A. A. Opoku. He took Twitter audience on a jet ride answering all the big questions on the topic: “Will Alternative Learning Credentialing Become Acceptable in Qualifying for A Job”.

Here’s the conversation transcribed from the twitter thread for you.

@SBIncubatorGH: What is your understanding on the concept of alternative credentialing?

@futuristKwame: So a bit of a background to create perspective. Higher Education is facing a dilemma. The imperative to complete a degree has never been greater, but no entity can build enough campuses to produce the billion college graduates demanded by the global economy. Traditional learning-to-employment pathways are becoming a thing of the past. The focus is now on supporting competency-based approaches to education, training and hiring and that is where Alternative credentialing comes into play. Not every learner has the time — or resources — to earn a traditional, credit-based degree. With alternative credentialing, students can take the knowledge they’ve gained from non-degree coursework to improve their skills and employability.

@SBIncubatorGH: What has caused the emergence of online learning platforms like Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, edx, IBM DNA Program, etc.?

@FuturistKwame: I strongly believe, this is due to the fact that, the current educational system has been broken for years now and nothing was done about it. The biggest problem with in-person education is that it forces a linear, one-size-fits-all teaching style. Even the best teacher in the world must deal with this tradeoff, which boils down to the following question: Should I slow down to help more students understand, or speed up to cover more material? And so they inevitably end up settling on a pace and an educational approach somewhere in the middle. As a result, in-person education is always suboptimal for a large number of students in a classroom. For the first time ever, Online education could solve this problem because it allows for personalized learning. Educational content and style can adapt to a particular student and that student’s response to a particular lesson. Imagine a world in which no one person experiences the same class in the same way. One that adjusts a lesson on computer programming depending on whether a student already has previous experience with programming, or is a total beginner — why not use concepts a student may already have to allow them to learn something faster? And this I believe is the underlying principle and the enabler of such platforms and their scalability.

@SBIncubatorGH: So many are people obtaining degree qualifications and yet these credentials are losing meaning and value to employers. Why is this so?

@FuturistKwame: I will give a simple answer to this because the writing is on the wall. Degree holders are by and large totally irrelevant to the new world of work and to the job market with the skillsets they bring to it. I have a book I am working on in this very regard due out in summer 2019. Good example, a typical Marketing student in UGBS today is still learning the 4Ps of marketing, in a world where Viral loops and Immersive Marketing at the order of the day. In a world of Siri, Echo and Cortana where decisions are continually driven by datasets, you are bringing 4Ps to the Market. Well good luck with that.

@SBIncubatorGH: Are digital badges, micro-credentials and digital certificates enough added-value for an employer to choose a candidate over others?

@FuturistKwame: The data proves so. Not necessarily to make them a preferred choice as yet, but to make them an equal contender for the spot. And this is due to the fact that, the focus is more on competence based deliverables and not letters on an A4 sheet.  In Silicon Valley today and in most of the big tech hubs across the globe, a regular programmer with a high GitHub rating is more likely to get that job than a Harvard graduate. This is happening today. And so I strongly believe that traditional education and its accompanying credentialing will be replaceable in the long term and it is already providing high value to employability across industries.

@SBIncubatorGH: Google’s big move to hire people without college degrees is evidence of changing trends. Do you see this becoming a norm in the near future and how soon?

@FuturistKwame: It’s a Global move, it’s evident in most industries. I have gained 100% of my gigs and jobs in the last few years based on recommendations off past works, LinkedIn Profile weight, endorsements and Nano Degrees from online courses. It will be the norm in most industries by 2025. In my book I call this “The Death of Degrees and CVs”.

@SBIncubatorGH: According to Pearson’s Report on Alternative Credentialing 64% of people see it as an important future strategy and opportunity. Do you see this as a key to unlocking higher education in Africa?

@FuturistKwame: With our youth population demographics, the workforce profile and the illiteracy level, it might not only be the key to unlocking higher education, it might actually be the secret code to unlocking wealth and attacking illiteracy at its core. Self-Paced, Affordable, Personalized Learning for all in the comforts of wherever they so choose to have as a “classroom”, will be a major breakthrough for our continent. At policy making level we must as a matter of urgency push these conversations and action them as soon as possible. It is the underlying principle, we use at the Institute of Future Learning and Caroline University which I co-founded

@SBIncubatorGH: The illusion of Africa’s wide digital skills gap is changing as many initiatives and investments are being launched. Do you foresee Africa becoming the Digital Skills Hub for the rest of the world by 2050?

@FuturistKwame: I hope and pray so. We are too slow for our own good in adapting emerging technologies and the disruptive opportunities they present in radically solving problems and that is my fear. If we can activate our policies to match up with the speed of innovation the way UAE is actively prospecting the future with these technologies, then the answer is Yes!! If we can get a consensus across private sector, government agencies and all major players to rapidly push infrastructure and policy to match up, then Yes! If not, then so help us God!

@SBIncubatorGH: What will the future of minimum job requirements look like and how should we brace ourselves to stay competitive?

@FuturistKwame: Let me introduce you to the concept of Metalearning. In a future of unknowns, and the only constant being change, one of the most valuables skill sets will be the act of learning, unlearning and relearning and that is what Metalearning embodies. The Future of minimum job requirements I believe will be

Digital Badges, Nano Degrees, etc.

LinkedIn type of Professional Recommendation Profiles through Social Technologies

Past work Experience and Portfolio Value

Maybe a basic traditional form of degree in very specific industries like Medicine

@SBIncubatorGH: What advice do you have for employers on their current recruitment methods?

@FuturistKwame: Look outside the box. Consider Freelancing Agencies, Crowdsourcing, Project Based Competencies. Just look outside the box!

@SBIncubatorGH: What top 5 skills are becoming heavy in-demand and can be acquired through alternate credentialing?


Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

Effective oral and written communication

Curiosity and Imagination

Peer- to – Peer Collaborative

Data Driven Decision Making

All of which can be obtained at higher rates compared to traditional learning credentials by alternative credentials.

Kwame concluded with the thought: “The Future of work will be dramatically different from the World of Work Today. Learning is now a lifelong process. Learn/ Unlearn/ Relearn! That is the Key to remaining relevant in the world of work!”

It was an insightful conversation.

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