Baden U'Ren

2018 / 22 June

Adaptive learning workers are key to the future success of the Gold Coast


This article appeared in the Gold Coast Bulletin on June 22, 2018

The power dynamic between employer and employee is changing. Companies which traditionally existed to maximise efficiency at scale are being increasingly disrupted by digital infrastructures undermining their very reason for being.

The predictable markets of the 20th Century are behind us, replaced by a new era of uncertainty where scalable connectivity will out-compete scalable efficiency as a management philosophy. We see this in successful new organisational forms, with Amazon and Alibaba dominating the retail industry, Uber transforming transport, and AirBnB changing our understanding of short-stay accommodation.

These new organisational forms thrive with a new kind of employee: the adaptable learning worker. Skilled in a particular discipline like design or engineering or finance, adaptable learning workers possess additional capabilities like emotional intelligence, curiosity and creativity, and transdisciplinarity. In other words, we need skilled people who can work in cross-functional teams to generate creative solutions for customer-focused problems. In a world filled with uncertainty, adaptable learning workers are a highly-prized asset and organisations will go to extraordinary lengths to attract and retain them.

This is good news for the Gold Coast. In the war for talent location is one factor that can provide an edge in attracting desirable employees. Just as Boulder, Colorado has used its Rocky Mountain beauty to become America’s highest-density location for start-ups, the Gold Coast’s golden beaches and beautiful hinterland are an attraction for modern organisations looking for the best staff. Add to this the optic fibre laid along the light rail and we have set ourselves up to be a prime location for the modern connected organisation.

It is also a call-to-action for our education system. For too long we have relied on a discipline-based approach to build knowledge workers for 20th Century work.

It is time for the general capabilities of creativity, emotional intelligence and entrepreneurial capability to take centre stage in our curriculum, complementing the development of knowledge and skills to produce a regional workforce equipped for the uncertainty of modern commerce.

If our schools take the opportunities afforded by Gonski 2.0 and develop 21st Century adaptive learning workers, and modern organisations recognise the Gold Coast as a strategically beneficial location for scalable connectivity, the future for our vibrant city is bright indeed.

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