Fri | Dec 6, 2019

Growth & Jobs | Logistics-centred education: skills for the 21st century - Part II

Published:Tuesday | January 15, 2019 | 12:00 AMAinsley Brown/Contributor
Ainsley Brown

"The power of education extends beyond the development of skills we need for economic success. It can contribute to nation-building and reconciliation."

- Nelson Mandela

It can never be overstated the importance of education. Educating our people will be a major part of creating success for Jamaica in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. That is to say, "Education is the key tool to manage the challenges ahead. The economies of the future will be knowledge-driven. That's why we must use education to help people ride this wave of change and give them the skills they need for the new jobs of the 21st century." - Michael E. Hansen, chief executive officer, Cengage Learning.

In this age that we live in, the digital age, the information age, the age of big data - the Fourth Industrial Revolution - there is a lot of data out there, and a key skill in many jobs, if not a job in and of itself, is being able to navigate through this ocean and deliver the 'seven right', as they are known in logistics: the right product, in the right quantity and the right condition, to the right place at the right time, for the right customer at the right price.

 

STORYTELLING

 

More importantly, however, is the ability to explain this data - to tell a story with it. We are reminded that "useful data comes in the form of stories, not statistics".

People will and do pay top dollar for this skill.

Storytelling, the ancient craft, is the future.

The ability to not only collect, but to analyse, visualise and weave data together into a compelling story is a powerful skill in today's information age. What is more, data visualisation is an emerging field that is increasing in prominence in media outlets, governments, business, etc. Individuals or organisations that develop this skill set have the ability to distinguish themselves by being able to tell their stories in visually compelling ways.

There are several free and paid Internet-based applications that let authors combine beautiful visualisations with narrative text, images, videos and social media. The applications are designed to be attractive and usable by anyone, which makes them great for education and outreach, either to the general public or to a specific audience.

Each semester, I do something different with my students. However, each semester begins the same.

I clearly remember each day when I tell the students what their assignment will be and that it will be very different from anything they have done before. Each and every time, the reaction is the same: a sense of shared amazement or horror - it's hard to tell which one, and may be it is a bit of both - can be seen in the eyes of my students. Well, I am happy to say that several months and hours of frustration and experimentation later, the students rise to the challenge, every time, and deliver some quality work.

In Part III, we will explore some of the technologies used.

- Ainsley Brown is the regulatory, trade and monitoring director at Jamaica's Special Economic Zone Authority and an adjunct lecturer at the Caribbean Maritime Institute and Excelsior Community College.