Creative thinking, artificial intelligence, professions of the future. These and other topics were discussed by the participants of the first online forum “UNICEF Talks: Designing the Future”

The event was organized by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Belarus. The forum participants discussed the issues of technology development, creative thinking formation, new profession selection and acquisition, as well as climate change.

During the 4-hour period, 15 international speakers shared their hypotheses about the future of the new generation and suggestions on how to make our world more comfortable and safer for every child. More than 500 viewers watched the live broadcast.

From watching dorams to the professions of the future

Yelena Klekovkina is the creator and Director of the Executive Coaching, Development and Career Centre of Skolkovo Business School, Russia, noted that it will be much more difficult for the new generation to find jobs than for the current one. Elena advised young people to follow current global trends and figure out what skills are needed for successful self-realization in their chosen fields.

The speaker gave an interesting example. Korean dorams (TV series) have become very popular in recent years. Such success is a signal for all producers of local media content, which, with the right approach, can be of interest to a wide audience. Therefore, young people should seek to apply their talents in this dynamically developing industry.

Virtual learning platforms offer new educational opportunities for young people. Today, students do not have to pass exams at prestigious universities to gain access to lectures at Harvard and Yale. All they have to do is avail themselves of the offers of EdTech start-ups and study remotely with world-renowned professors and scientists without any tuition fees.

In her speech, Klekovkina drew attention to the fact that today the focus is shifting towards the emotional perception in the choice of profession. This means that the profession must first and foremost correspond to the person’s inner values. As an assessment system, the speaker referred to the Skolkovo model Three Cs [essential elements] of a Career : Strengths, Demand and Meaning as an example of an assessment system. Both teachers and parents should develop responsibility for this approach by monitoring the passions and aspirations of their children.

Dmitry Chernyshev, professor of HSE (Higher School of Economics) and author of “How People Think” bestseller drew attention to the importance of developing a creative approach to problem-solving. According to the expert, creative thinking is not a built-in function one has to be born with, but rather a skill a child needs to develop.

In his speech, Dmitry said that it is important to consider the changes in the present-day school. Instead of mechanically performing tasks based on ready-made algorithms, children must be taught how to generate nonconventional ideas. They must be steered away from stereotypical thinking towards the search for uncommon solutions. Thus, e.g., in Finnish schools creative thinking has become a compulsory discipline of its own.

Digital nannies and the culture of artificial intelligence

Leading experts and IT business owners discussed the ways in which technologies impact human life. Each participant shared their views on the technology industry prospective advancement in the context of education and child talent development.

Maxim Azarov, the CEO and founder of Novakid online English language school, dwelled on the forthcoming transformation of remote learning. According to him, we are going to witness a transfer from the classical online conferences to cross-platform solutions in the next few years. This will allow tracking the progress of a student and guide them at any stage, taking into account their personal characteristics and level of proficiency in the subject. Innovative interactive methods will, therefore, increasingly adopt the opportunities of gamification, artificial intelligence and even create virtual realities within the learning environment.

Alexander Smirnov, M.D., the co-founder and CTO of CleverPoint Company, expressed an interesting opinion. The expert believes that technology development will directly depend on the characteristics of the modern human brain and the thought processes performed by it.

The impact of artificial intelligence on the future of youth was raised by Andrey Voronovich, Head of Data Science at FLO Health. He drew attention to the fact that digital assistants (bots and individual services) will eventually become “teachers” for children to help them get used to adulthood. Technology can help one acquire financial literacy and other important skills. As such changes will be related to the use of personal data, we, adults, need to create a culture of corporate responsibility for the safety of children in the technological environment.

Andrey Voronovich mentioned and new AI-based services and programs should be inclusive and accessible for all social groups in order to ensure equal opportunities for the youth of the future.

What do children of the future think about?

The main event of the forum was a panel discussion between representatives of two generations. Enthusiastic and proactive young people shared their expectations and fears related to the upcoming changes, and they also drew attention to areas, where the participation of adults is essential.

Thus, according to the participants, the most pressing topics for the new generation are gadget addiction, reproductive health and the choice of future professions. The young people suggested that open access to objective and reliable information on how to protect oneself from possible threats could be a possible solution.

It is essential for the new generation to realize that they can be directly involved in the creation of their own future, and establish their own rules of the game. The young people are keen on learning foreign languages, they join relevant nongovernmental organizations, make contacts around the world and exchange experience with each other.

The classical question “How do see your future in 10 years” was also raised during the discussion. All the participants answered unequivocally that they want to get an education and a job first, and only afterwards, start a family. The children of the future are more aware of personal relationships and would like to have a solid footing before assuming responsibility for others.

As a result of the discussion, the participants came to the general conclusion that the most important thing for children and adults today is not to avoid dialogue but try to understand each other. Young people should not deny the experience of the previous generations. At the same time, they need to make sure that their opinions will be heard, as they have a better sense of the time, and it is they who defines the global development trends.

“We are celebrating the UNICEF’s 75th anniversary, recollecting what we have done over the decades: fighting poverty and violence, illiteracy and disease, disasters and injustice. We have improved billions of lives. Millions of lives have been saved. But today it is much more important to dream, build plans and strive to create a better future than remembering past achievements. Our allies in this matter are children and young people. They are more progressive than we, the adults, are; they look at the world with different eyes; therefore, it is so important to build the future together with those who will live in it.

At the first online forum "UNICEF talks: Designing the Future" we discussed topics that are important for every person and for every child: the importance of parental support, advice on building creative skills, optimistic and pessimistic views on the role of technology in children's lives, etc. We do not have to agree on everything, but it is important to take a small step together with our children every day and bring a better tomorrow closer ", Tanja Radocaj, UNICEF Representative in Belarus.

Where can I find the forum materials?

If, for whatever reason, you were unable to connect to the event on the day, you can get the full version of all speeches for a small donation. More details at https://unicef.by/unicef-talks/