Using technology-driven learning experiences to prepare students for the future of work

Using technology-driven learning experiences to prepare students for the future of work
By Dr. John Burgin, Head of Digital Business, Asia Pacific, Cognizant

Dr. John Burgin
Head of Digital Business
Asia Pacific,Cognizant
Singapore is one of Asia-Pacific’s biggest success stories when it comes to education. At both the school and university levels, the country regularly comes out on top in global education league tables. The most recent Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) ranking showed that Singapore teenagers are the highest achieving in maths, reading and science globally. In tertiary education, Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University is ranked 11th in the world in the 2018 Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings, ahead of many Ivy League schools. High graduate salaries and good placement rates are testament to the quality of the education system in Singapore. However, the speed with which technology is reshaping the way we work means that Singapore cannot afford to rest on her laurels.

Organisations are adopting technology to increase efficiencies and outcomes, and go to market in new ways. This is stimulating change in every aspect of business, from shrinking business lifecycles to creating jobs that didn’t exist even a couple of years ago.

Intelligent automation will elevate the roles people play, while also unleashing the potential to create millions of new jobs and industries. What does this mean for Singapore’s universities and institutions tasked with training the people that will be hired to fill these roles?

Simply put, how we learn and teach skills needs to change. Traditional educational paths such as multi-year university degrees that do not focus on lifelong learning, will not equip people for a career constantly disrupted by technology. 

Here are three key elements that will drive effective learning for the workforce of the future:

Collective learning and growth
Companies are shifting from siloed ways of working, to become more team-focused. While there is active debate around whether a team environment is ideal for every task, there is a clear move away from 9 to 5 office-based jobs, and towards more flexible and interconnected working.

Effective learning strategies need to reflect these changes in how employees are interacting with each other, and incorporate approaches that introduce skill-sets such as how to work collaboratively.

So rather than asking a student to write a thesis in their final year, deciding whose is the best and grading it accordingly, lets encourage students to see what they can achieve together, and reward groups that can become more than the sum of their parts. This is better training for today’s business world than any individualised task.

Immersive experiences through virtual and augmented reality
Teaching and assessment theory isn’t the only area that needs to be updated. According to the World Economic Forum Future of Jobs Report, by 2020, over a third of the desired core skill sets of most occupations will comprise skills that are not considered crucial in today’s jobs.

The demand for IT skills will continue to grow. In fact, roles and responsibilities of non-IT jobs often already include technological elements, which means, employees of the future need to have these skills under their belts.

The use of new technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) could help future employees transform theory into practice. While this could occur in the workplace, the journey to enabling professionals to be trained in the latest skills starts with their education format.

Using the medical industry as an example, doctors who have been using AR and VR environments throughout their education and training, will undoubtedly be better equipped to use these tools to their optimal capabilities on the job. To ensure this outcome, though, universities and training institutions need to be ahead of the curve, and provide the technology that students will be using in their future jobs.

Using technology like VR and AR to create visually and physically engaging education-focused content should set the new standards in our schools and universities. In turn, this will drive the corporate world to set their own new standards of engagement and technology-driven processes in the workplace.

Personalised learning experiences
Knowing that human beings tend to perform better at things they enjoy, educational institutions should be doing their utmost to provide enjoyable learning environments. This starts with knowing what is and isn’t enjoyable to each student, and tailoring learning programs to individual needs.

Digital technologies that analyse the needs, preferences, and progress of students on a 24/7 basis are already available. According to a McKinsey report, increasing the use of student data in education could unlock between US$900 billion and $1.2 trillion in global economic value.

Education institutions could, for example, leverage advanced data analytics platforms to revolutionise admissions, coursework, and continuing education. By capturing, aggregating, analysing and acting upon data-driven insights at every stage of the student lifecycle, educators can create “student personas”. With these kinds of insights, institutions can implement tailored learning environments in the fields in which each student is the mostly likely to shine.

These digital approaches to education may seem daunting to institutions that still have traditional planning and execution cycles. However, in keeping with Singapore’s history of innovation and forward-thinking, institutions dedicated to delivering effective learning need to choose — either create and implement plans to transform learning experiences for students rapidly and continuously, or fall behind.

The result will be future generations of educated professionals with the right skills and attitude towards learning that will future-proof them against whatever technological innovations are ahead.


For more information or a deeper discussion on technology-driven learning experiences to prepare students for the future of work with Dr. John Burgin, please contact Maizurah Mohamed at +65 3157 5630 or

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