The interesting opening address came from Lord Knight of Weymouth who has had five careers to date - first in theatre, then in the paper telephone directory business, as an MP, now as a member of the House of Lords and an education advisor.
His emphasis was that today’s changing economy requires us to reinvent ourselves and our careers all the time and, he thought, having a digital skillset would help with this. However, technology must be used to transform practice and not just used to do the same things differently. Instead, it needs to help us do something that was previously inconceivable. For example, FaceTime on the iPhone has changed the way we do things. Lord Knight got some laughs explaining how his mother loves facetime so much that she tries to call him at all kinds of awkward moments.. Embrace personal mobile technology is key for the future, Jim said.
As an opposition member in the Hosue of Lords, he talked politically about how the labour market is hollowing out, with big rise in long term unemployment which only reinforces the need for lifelong learning. The economic and education power is shifting to Asia, he said, something we should all be concerned about.
Employers need something different, something new. They need to know that employees can solve problems. They need transferable skills. They need to know that we can collaborate and work over a wide area with a wide variety of people. Technology can help us do this and help us compete with the skills that are coming from Asia.