Future skills and the Creative Economy – Impressions of Nesta’s event “Acting Now for Future Skills”

Hello Macers! In November, you welcomed me in your Mapping in the Creative Economy class to discuss the future of work in the creative economy. Thank you for the warm reception and high-level discussions. Recently, I attended Nesta’s event “Acting now for future skills” where policymakers, educators, students, private and non-profit organisations gathered to debate several topics in relation to the future of work, education and much more. It’s my pleasure to share my impressions with you.

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Nesta’s Event “Acting now for future Skills” at the Milbank Tower. Photo Celina Schlieckmann

Firstly, for those who missed the session on November 10th, we’ve talked about the skill sets needed to thrive in the new economy, creative entrepreneurship, new mindsets and how the fourth industrial revolution is changing the way we see the world and is making us rethink the way we want to live. As Klaus Schwab said in the WEF’s documentary: “One of the features of this 4th industrial revolution is that it doesn’t change what we are doing, it changes us.”. In this context, I presented my personal research project where I investigated the relationships between creativity and business. In “the skill sets for the new economy in the creative industries: a comparative study between Brazil and the UK”, I investigated business knowledge as a resource to commercialise ideas by creative professionals and pointed the challenges and opportunities of working in the CE nowadays and looking into the future.

Nesta’s event “Acting Now For Future Skills” took place in the Milbank Tower for a whole day on the 30th of November with an amazing programme including themes such as education, artificial intelligence, collaborative problem solving, knowledge, skills, designing policies and successful case studies. It was great to see what the main agents of the creative economy are discussing about the future of work and education in the UK’s creative economy. They kicked-off by commenting about the ‘buzz’ of artificial intelligence and how much time we spend discussing ‘how robots will take our jobs’, while we should be working on how we are preparing the workforce with the ‘21st Century skills’ (social and cognitive skills). For this reason, they stressed that the event was about hope and positivity.

The workforce was approached in three fronts: (i) Schools: children who will be working in 2020; (ii) Universities: combining knowledge and skills programmes and (iii) Continue learning: people who are working already and need to learn new skills and adapt for the future. You can watch the first part below and the main topics discussed below:

Skills and Knowledge
In the debate between skills and knowledge, they’ve acknowledged the importance of both but, most of all the need to strike a balance between them. There was reminder that ‘skills’ today does not mean digital skills necessarily, it includes skills in general. In fact, the so called ‘soft skills’ were in the spotlight and so were the difficulties of learning, teaching and testing them. The crowd appeared to conclude that soft skills are in fact very hard and that they should be valued, not tested in parallel to acquiring knowledge and other skills.

Reinventing the craft of teaching
No, this has nothing to do with robots going to class but methodologies and resources to prepare kids to a different world that we live in today. This includes teaching values, attitudes, how to create impact, tackle problems and collaborate. Yet, most of them feel there is not much room for experimentation in these early stages and worry since changes in this area might take decades to understand what works.

Oli de Botton, one of the founders of School 21 showcased the cutting-edge London school. They prioritise the head (think), the heart (humanity) and the hands (do) in all activities. I was amazed by their beliefs and logic: simple, clear and connected to recent and future changes. For him, learning is about transformation, not replication, with a higher purpose: empower children. He supports less bureaucracy and regulations by the government (that should be restricted to regulate the standardised tests) to leave more room for schools to implement and test new methodologies.

Collaboration and Problem Solving
Promote diffusion of ideas and work together to support reforms, collaboration and problem-solving activities were unanimous within the main agents present. The government want to collaborate with the private sector and educational institutions sharing knowledge and being opened to develop alternatives. As an example, Google presented Google Digital Garage, a project executed in collaboration with local government from Manchester, Sheffield and Birmingham to share knowledge on digital skills. For them, the key is to start local, understand and adapt to each characteristic to then be able to scale up and go global. You can watch the whole discussion in the video below:

Testing and experimentation
Representatives from the public and private segments acknowledged the importance of being flexible and able to adapt to promote efficient collaborations. These partnerships are important to make mistakes and learn, build frameworks to promote more projects, measuring the impact they are generating so improvements can be made in the way.

In conclusion, act now for future skills is much more than accepting robots and adapting to a new type of work simple because, as said in the event, we make the future we want to live. Yes, changes are inevitable and so are the needs to be flexible, train cognitive skills, be creative, have a human approach, be open minded and create a routine of continuous education. No matter if you are a creative professional that needs to be doing business, a web designer that also creates apps or a doctor that need to think creatively, we can now create the conditions and shape the future we want to be living in.

I was extremely happy to be in an event of this magnitude with so many interesting people to network and discuss themes that surrounded my personal research project and my professional life after graduating from MACE. Most importantly: to validate the relevance of my study and see great opportunities for the future ahead. How about you? Any thoughts on what to you want to study next year for your dissertation?

 If you want to explore further, there are several related reports and blog posts from Nesta here. In the main page of these discussions, you can also replay all the sessions that were live streamed. The Design Council also published last week a research report “Designing a future economy” to evaluate the impact of designs skills in UK’s economy for productivity and innovation. Finally, below I also included some interesting resources that contributed for my research. Look forward to seeing you in January. Happy Holidays for everyone and a fantastic 2018 for all of us!

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References and Bibliography:

Amabile, Teresa M. (1998) ‘How to Kill Creativity’, Harvard Business Review, 76(5), pp. 76-87.

Bakhshi, H., Osborne, M., Schneider, P., and Downing, J. (2017) ‘The future of skills: employment in 2030’ Available at: https://www.nesta.org.uk/publications/future-skills-employment-2030  (Accessed: 05 November, 2017).

Bridgstock, R. (2013) ‘Professional Capabilities for Twenty‐First Century Creative Careers: Lessons from Outstandingly Successful Australian Artists and Designers’ , International Journal of Art & Design Education, 32(2), pp. 176-189.

Design Council (2017) “Designing a future economy report” Available at: https://www.designcouncil.org.uk/news-opinion/design-council-launches-designing-future-economy-report (Accessed on: 18 December, 2017).

Eikhof, D., and Haunschild, A. (2006) ‘Lifestyle Meets Market: Bohemian Entrepreneurs in Creative Industries’ Creativity and Innovation Management, 15(3), pp. 234-241.

Google Digital Garage (2017) “Get new skills for a digital world” Available at: https://learndigital.withgoogle.com/digitalgarage/ (Accessed on: 18 December, 2017).

Hagoort, G., Thomassen, A. and Kooyman, R. (2012) Pioneering minds worldwide: on the entrepreneurial principles of the cultural and creative industries: actual insights into cultural and creative entrepreneurship research. Delft: Eburon Academic Press.

Nesta (2017) “Acting now for future skills agenda” Available at: https://www.nesta.org.uk/sites/default/files/agenda_-_acting_now_for_future_skills_v4.docx.pdf (Accessed: 18/12/2017).

Nesta (2017) “Acting now for future skills: themes and discussion” Available at: https://www.nesta.org.uk/acting-now-future-skills-themes-discussion (Accessed on: 18 December, 2017).

Nesta (2017) “Acting now for future skills – The future of work: Employment in 2020” Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEMkkc5jVUo&feature=youtu.be (Accessed on: 18 December, 2017).

Nesta (2017) “Collaborative Problem Solving and the PISA tests” Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cmLnNewT1s&feature=youtu.be (Accessed on: 18 December, 2017).

Nesta (2017) “From playground to pension: Designing policy for digital skills” Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJuTVOXDrbI&feature=youtu.be  (Accessed on: 18 December, 2017).

Nesta (2017) “Solved! Making the case for collaborative problem-solving” Available at: https://www.nesta.org.uk/publications/solved-making-case-collaborative-problem-solving (Accessed on: 18 December, 2017).

Nesta (2017) ‘The Future Skills UK’ Available at: http://data-viz.nesta.org.uk/future-skills/index.html (Accessed on: 19 December, 2017).

Robison, K. (2006) ‘Do schools kill creativity?’ Available at: https://www.ted.com/talks/sir_ken_robinson_bring_on_the_revolution  (Accessed: 24 October, 2017).

Robison, K. (2010) ‘Bring on the learning revolution’ Available at: https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity  (Accessed: 24 October, 2017).

RSA (2010) ‘RSA ANIMATE: Changing Education Paradigms’ Available at: https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity (Accessed: 23 November, 2017).

World Economic Forum (2016a) ‘Future of Jobs Report’ Available at: http://reports.weforum.org/future-of-jobs-2016/ (Accessed: 05 November, 2017).

World Economic Forum (2016b) ‘What is the fourth industrial revolution?” Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpW9JcWxKq0 (Accessed: 23 November, 2017).


Understanding AI and its implications

Do we understand AI and its implications well enough?

Are you with Elon Musk who believes AI could lead to WW3 and is urging for AI regulation, or are you leaning towards Bill Gates’ opinion that we’re all panicking?

“The government of UAE appointed its first Minister of Artificial Intelligence in October, days after the UAE’s 2031 AI strategy was unveiled. Omar Bin Sultan Al Olama, formerly the Deputy Director of the nation’s Future department, will take on the role. The government aims to harness AI to increase the GDP by 35%, reduce government costs by 50%, implement a robot police force, and improve education by 2031. These plans reflect the UAE’s desire to be the “most prepared” country for artificial intelligence, according to Prime Minister Shaikh Mohammad.

This is the nation that just released plans to establish a 600,000 person-strong city on Mars by 2117. Clearly the UAE isn’t waiting around for the future to arrive. So when a government as future-focused as this one establishes an entire ministry devoted to AI, you’d better believe that this technology is significant and essential to master.” (via TrendWatching.com)

In other news, Sophia the robot is now a citizen of Saudi Arabia and you can watch her speak about her feelings to Reuters’ at Web Summit in Lisbon. This makes Saudi Arabia the first country in the world to grant citizenship to a robot.

Also, “meet the high schooler shaking up Artificial Intelligence” with no undergraduate and graduate degree, see how farmers in India use AI to help them with their crops, laugh as scammers get frustrated with an AI chatbot, and despair over ethics of AI development.

Our MACE16 student Michelle Petersen decided to develop her own understanding of the AI agenda as part of her MACE Personal Research Project, and I am pleased to welcome her to the BS7705 Mapping the Creative Economy class today to talk about her work on “What role can machine learning techniques play in the film industry; and how do UK film practitioners appraise machine learning in filmmaking?”. Michelle’s research tackles a complex topic but delivers real accessible understanding. Michelle presented her research at the 16th International Colloquium on Arts, Heritage, Non-Profit and Social Marketing organised by Kingston Business School and the Academy of Marketing 8 September 2017.

Do you think we understand AI and its implications well enough?