The ‘Big Tech’ elite do not want screens in their children’s education | Opinion

Education, good education (or lack of it), can be the cause of the success or failure of a professional career. It always was, since Aristotle taught Alexander the Great: the Greek philosopher reserved for the rich and powerful what he learned from Plato and, this one, from Socrates. History tells us that education has been key to social mobility. And the previous industrial revolutions taught that educational systems for the masses were intended not to get them out of poverty, but to fill factories to produce cars, refrigerators, tanks or computers. The fourth industrial revolution, digitization, discovers new elements.

It is obvious to preach the need for digital education to forge a future and continuous training in these skills to remain in the labor market. More of the same: educating/training a workforce to fill “the workplaces, physical, virtual, the metaverse, or the beach” that digitization demands.

But what does the elite do? The top executives of Big-Tech –Apple, Google, Meta, Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce, Amazon and other technological giants– take their children to study at the Waldorf of Peninsula, a private school where a screen does not enter until they reach high school , while schools around the world strive to introduce computers, tablets, interactive whiteboards and other technological gadgets. Tim Cook, Satya Nadella, Jeff Bezos, Sundar Pichai, Larry Ellison, Marc Benioff, among others, believe in the humanities and –with a Renaissance spirit– promote comprehensive quality education… for their children. It is the salespeople who work for them who hammer billions of people with “remote work”, “productivity tools”, not to mention the technologies of digitization. They strive for their bonus; Instead, Jeff Bezos reads a paper book every week. It is the difference between a tavern and a Six Senses Hotel.

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“You have to love the inevitable” (Marco Aurelio, Meditations): here we are not going to change the world. Suffice it to analyze reports from the World Economic Forum, the OECD, the World Bank, the IMF, the European Central Bank or Eurostat, using their regression models, and project the impact on economic growth of education and training in digitization over 10 years. This affects the majority of the population, SMEs, and is the other side of the coin.

People want security, but (according to the sources cited), 71% of workers are afraid of the future. Digitization requires education for children and continuous training for workers, especially those over 45 years of age. The fear of robotics and process automation is real for 65% of the workforce in the OECD. And 76% of SMEs and the self-employed say they envy the workers of large companies, because they believe that the latter “receive the training that they are not provided with”.

One euro invested in a child’s education generates a ROI (return on investment) of 5 euros. And each additional year of education will translate to a 9% more ROI, in earnings, when you enter the job market. Digital education translates into an ROI of 15% in income projected over time in OECD member countries.

A global increase in the ability of students to solve problems collaboratively, taking as a reference the average of the 10 richest countries and with the best level of digital education, would add 2.54 billion euros to the global economy due to increases in productivity .

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The education sector contributes to job creation in the fourth industrial revolution: to achieve quality education, which includes digital education, it will be necessary to add 69 million teachers to the 85 million existing worldwide today. The largest investments in education in 2022 take place in “technological-digital education”, which will attract 404,000 million worldwide in 2023 “due to the recognition of the importance of remote learning provided by information technologies and digitization”.

Another topic is that access to quality education has a strong impact on a person’s ability to access the labor market and have relevant economic opportunities in the future. The Technical University of Munich emphasizes digital fluency and STEM (science-technology-engineering-mathematics) skills. Because many in-demand jobs require a strong understanding of math and science. According to the US Department of Labor, “In the next decade, the 20 fastest growing occupations will require STEM skills. And the European Center for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) estimates that, in the same period, “11% of new employment will come from jobs linked to science, engineering, ICT and digitization”. It will be a model of continuous training from the earliest education to the training of workers. In Europe and the US, repetitive jobs will decline by 30% over the next decade, while the demand for tech-enabled jobs will increase by more than 50% between 2022 and 2032.

All of the above requires asking about the investment in education per child and in our frame of reference –the OECD countries–, where the average investment per child/year in education is 16,865 euros. Spain, with 13,300 euros, is below the average and far from Luxembourg (47,194 euros), the USA (33,750 euros) and the United Kingdom (29,211 euros).

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Jorge Diaz Cardiel is managing partner of Advice Strategic Consultants, author of ‘The Biden New Deal’

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