Preparing for Hybrid Schools and Jobs

by Alexandra Whittington

One of the ideas I’m hearing a lot about lately concerns hybrids. As a futurist, this is nothing new; hybrid cars, hybrid life forms and hybrid foods are regular topics of conversation for us. But instead of genetic or technological hybrids, the term that grabbed my attention is “hybrid job.” This sociological chimera, the hybrid job, is expected to go mainstream soon, and we will begin to understand how “being good at just one thing is no longer enough.

In education, providing the basis for such versatility should be embraced. Not because education is ultimately a worker factory cranking out nameless future employees, but because we need to provide students an education that allows them to draw connections and see interrelations (see the Finnish phenomenon-based learning approach). They need to be hybrid thinkers. The need for different outcomes calls for a different approach to teaching, then, such as what HBR described as a “hybrid education.” Learning just one thing is no longer enough.

To invoke yet another buzzword

We are about to witness the rise of the blockchain technology, which could have a part to play in the hybridization of students and workers. Best known as the public ledger that makes bitcoin work, blockchain is becoming recognized for its numerous possibilities beyond virtual currency.

As a technology, blockchain involves networks of computers seeking consensus; it’s a type of crowdsourcing that avoids corruption by distributing authority. Essentially, blockchain provides conditions needed to get at various facts or pieces of truth, without layers of social institutions (bureaucracies, banks, judges) becoming involved.

Blockchain is a truth machine

While there are all kinds of middlemen to be cut out by the blockchain, one idea we came across in our research is that blockchain could track and verify educational credentials. In a future that favors hybrid skills and knowledge, this function would be useful: college applications, credit transfers, recruitment, hiring, promotion and training could all benefit from a streamlined system that eliminates fraud and, even better, forms a complete picture of the individual.

While this possibility doesn’t address the challenge of what a hybrid worker looks like, or how hybrid education should be structured, blockchain does offer a platform to provide a form of proof that people are who they say they are and know what they say they know. It also reduces the need for authorities to ascertain the validity of those claims. Another angle is that diverse hybrid skill sets will be built of traits that don’t have grounding in formal schooling (for example, “good friend” or “introvert”), and we need a way to legitimize them and communicate them publicly, anyway — could blockchain do that?

A future with ambiguously defined social roles such as “hybrid job” and “hybrid education” will require a strong foundation for agreement about identity and truth, and that’s why I think blockchain could play a key role in a hybrid future: it’s a truth machine.

About the author

Alexandra Whittington is a futurist, writer, faculty member on the Futures programme at the University of Houston and foresight director at Fast Future. She is a contributor to The Future of Business and a co-editor for forthcoming books on Unleashing Human Potential – The Future of AI in Business and 50:50 – Scenarios for the Next 50 Years. Fast Future publishes books from future thinkers around the world exploring how developments such as AI, robotics and disruptive thinking could impact individuals, society and business and create new trillion-dollar sectors.

Further learning

The Future of Business: Critical Insights into a Rapidly Changing World from 60 Future Thinkers by Rohit Talwar

9 Replies to “Preparing for Hybrid Schools and Jobs”

  1. Hybrid job, hybrid education and blockchain. These are new terms to me. Seems very interesting 🙂 I’ll probably read up more on this. I’m currently trying to figure out what to do with my life and I’ve got too many interests. This is definitely catching my attention 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 4IR has made disruptive change the driving force influencing education and the future of work. For young people, work is not a job anymore, it is an ongoing process of continuous learning, adaptive skillsets, and flexibility. Will the majority of youth entering the working world in 2020 be freelancers throughout their lives? Many feel that this is more likely than not.


  3. The greatest skills to acquire in the 21st century include:
    1. Adaptability
    2. Polished interpersonal communications
    3. Writing skills
    4. Hobbies
    5. Escaping from the confines of electronic screens and virtual space


    1. The 5 skills Len mentioned are definitely crucial in educating future generations of workers and thinkers. I will give you also my Top 5:

      1. Entrepreneurship: everyone should cultivate this mindset and be ready to experience the cycle “try-fail-learn” again and again.

      2. Interpersonal skills: I definitely agree on this one. Jobs and activities with no interaction with others will be easily replaced by machines.

      3. Ethics: I feel this is something modern societies are kind of losing, and it is nevertheless necessary to define the boundaries of our objectives and purposes.

      4. Creativity and Innovation: despite what some people say, I believe these skills can be learnt and should be taught in every school.

      5. History: we should spend more energy understanding where we come from and not forget the lessons of the past if we wish to create a brighter future.


  4. We do live in 21st Century.So it is best to use whatever can help us in making good future. Even though Hybrid is something new to me. But I can say that adaptation is a must.


  5. This isn’t something I’ve ever heard of! To be honest I had to do a quick google search. I knew about hybrid cars as I work for a car hire company, but I’m interested in finding out more about hybrid jobs and skills


  6. As an ex-school teacher I couldn’t agree more about educating students to think for themselves and to relate things together. We teach children to learn things by heart but never fully understand them or grasp them. Teaching children to link things together is a great way to prepare for the future where everybody will have more than one role or jobs. Really interesting post.


  7. Hybrid……..The word alone is futuristic and scary and fantastic. The hybrid car is the only hybrid that I am aware of here in Ireland. I have no doubt that the hybrid education system will be part of the course in the near future.


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