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The Futurist: Time to learn from our students

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Garrick Lau, CEO, Junior Achievement Hong Kong explains why HR professionals should be paying more attention to what skills and knowledge new generations develop at school.

It has been an educational experience for myself to change from an HR manager of a commercial entity to an NGO
manager for education and youth development.

During the transition, I tried to understand better what Hong Kong students face and what they need. For sure, we are all very proud of the academic performances of our students, often getting in the top ranks globally in reading and mathematics skills.

However, they also demonstrate the lowest sense of belonging in schools; the lowest sense of purpose in life; spend the least time talking to their parents; and face the most frequent bullying, according to research conducted by PISA on 500,000 students globally in 2015.

Why is this relevant to HR?
When one thinks about the future of the workforce in five to 10 years, the kids at school now will be our upcoming pipeline. We invest heavily in understanding new technologies, products and customers, but comparatively how much do we invest in understanding new generation?

A quick test: when was the last time you spoke to a teacher, a student or a school principal and heard about their daily lives? Gleaned their insights on the values of the next generations?

Nowadays, students learn coding, robotics, design thinking and entrepreneurship in primary and secondary school. They also receive life coaching and mindfulness exercises.

As an industry, are HR managers paying enough attention to what skills and knowledge new generations develop at school, so that we can design and adapt to an environment that facilitates their motivation to perform?

It turns out I have not changed industry after all, I just went upstream.

The June 2018 issue of Human Resources magazine is a special edition, bringing you interviews with 12 HR leaders, with their predictions on the future of HR.

Read The Futurist or subscribe here.

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