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When it comes to the future of education, it's all about "just-in-time knowledge" .... because learning is what most adults will do for a living in the 21st century! -- Jim Carroll


Jim Carroll has been the keynote or leadership speaker for a wide variety of major education clients and conferences, including • American Society of Private College & Universities • Institute for Credentialing Excellence • American Society of Testing Professionals • James Madison University • Pearson CITE National Education Conference • Cengage Learning Corporation • College Board Colloquium • Pearson Global Marketing Conference • University of Oklahoma • National Association of College Stores • Texas College & University Professionals Facility Managers • Blackboard Systems

Here’s a promo clip I just filmed for my upcoming keynote at EdNET 2016 in Dallas.

When we think about the future of education, we need to think about the careers that the kids of today will be working in. Many of those careers don’t exist. Let’s hear what think about that!

The kids understand the future! Does the education industry?

Sixty five percent of the children who are in pre-school today will work in a job or career that doesn’t yet exist. Half of what students learn in their first year at college is obsolete or revised—by the time they graduate. Fifty percent of the U.S. gross domestic product will be taken up by training and knowledge activities within the decade.

With all of these changes at hand, futurist, trends & innovation expert Jim Carroll helps some of the world’s leading educational organizations and institutions make sense of this rapidly evolving future. His clients include the American Society of Private Colleges and Universities, the Institute for Credentialing Excellence Conference, the American Society of Testing Professionals, the Pearson CITE National Education Conference, Cengage Learning Corporation, the College Board Colloquium and the National Association of College Stores.

In his keynote presentations, Carroll provides concise insight that links a wide variety of global social, demographic, scientific, technological, business and other trends to the impact on education. He provides a an understanding on the velocity of change impacting the industry, and why we need to rethink the context of “how we teach” in light of the realities that has knowledge growing exponentially, the foundation of knowledge generation forever changed and global social networks challenging traditional education delivery models. The reality is that the exponential growth of knowledge leads to massive career specialization—we are in the midst of a fundamental structural organizational and career change, and by 2020 or sooner, it will be all about “just-in-time knowledge.”

Carroll challenges audiences to think about innovation in the education sector that takes on bold goals to deal with a reality that has rapid knowledge obsolescence and emergence, the disappearance of existing careers and the emergence of new careers, an ongoing need for continuous knowledge replenishment and the migration of knowledge generation further away from academia. There’s a massively increased challenge from overseas knowledge generation, the fast emergence of new micro-careers, an economy that succeeds through knowledge deployment and a fundamental transformation in the role of educational institutions

In other words: much of the education structure that we have in place today doesn’t match the reality of what we really need to do, given the rapid change occurring in the fundamentals of knowledge—which is why innovative thinking in the field of education today is more important than ever before.


I was pleasantly surprised by how many kids knew all about Spock! Read on to find out why I spoke to a bunch of 10 year olds about a television show from the 60’s….

So I golf with this guy at our Club.

He’s a grade 5 teacher, and this has led to some fascinating discussions about the next generation.

At one point, he asked me to come in and speak to his class.

I initially demurred; while I spend a great deal of time speaking at massive association conferences and private corporate events, I’m not really quite sure whether my message on future trends would resonate with a bunch of 10 year olds.

Boy, was I wrong!

This week I went in and spoke to 40+ Grade 5 kids. What an exhilarating experience!

I come away from speaking to this group with an appreciation and respect for the world view that this generation has.

What topics did I cover? They didn’t know what a futurist was until their teacher explained it to them — and they were apparently quite excited to hear from someone who earns a living writing, speaking and thinking about future trends.

I built a little talk that focused on some big trends that they might find impacting their lives in the future — and also an overview of some of the unique jobs and careers that they would see in their lifetime.

I did seek some input from folks on Facebook — after all, this isn’t my normal type of audience — as to what I could talk about. One fellow suggested that I should talk about ‘boogers.’ Sure. Not.


Wow, there was a lot of excitement when I arrived …. ! Folks, I wasn’t in Kansas anymore!



Of course, my plan was I wasn’t simply going to stand in front of them, and speak about things — I wanted to get them engaged and involved, through discussion, and, of course, text message polling!


Um, isn’t technology a really powerful tool for learning? Why do we ban it?

The class was prepped in advance by teacher that they would be allowed to bring their phones, laptops and other mobile devices into class. That apparently had them extremely excited, and when I I was in the room, the excitement was palpable.

I started out by observing that currently, many school rules forbid  the use of cell phones in class. So, I asked them right off the bat to take out their cell phones and other devices, so that we could poll the room as to whether they should be allowed to use them.

The opinion, which came in live within seconds, was about as expected. (I gave them a fun third option — most of the class knows that the teacher is an avid golfer!)


(Oh, and for the record, I did manage to talk about boogers, by showing my Facebook post where someone suggested I should talk about boogers!

I open many of my talks with a series of observations about the Jetson’s and Star Trek – and how predictions about the future from these TV shows are now becoming a part of our lives much earlier than expected. Here’s a clip where I cover this on stage — in this case, for the Sports & Fitness Industry Association in New Orleans, where I addressed several hundred CEO’s of major sporting goods manufacturers. My key point? We live in the era of the accelerating future.

What was cool was that many of the kids knew about the Jetsons and Spock — I would have expected the numbers to be lower…..

From there, I covered a number of other things, but really zoned in on two key slides: 10 trends that would impact their future, and 10 “really cool future jobs.”

10 trends? I spoke about autonomous vehicles, smart homes, intelligent eyewear, hyperconnected sports equipment, programmable weather, vertical farms, aging populations/longevity, connected agriculture, an immersive world, and smart medicine. There was quite a bit of discussion – and laughter – as they asked questions or provided their own insight on these trends.

Some of this directly related to their curriculum — which I addressed in another slide:


I was fascinated to learn that their teacher had showed them my “Could the Energy Industry Be Mp3’d” video. This video, arranged for by the CEO of the massive energy utility PG&E out of San Francisco, has me exploring the opportunities and challenges that are emerging with micro-grid energy technology, alternative power sources, and mobile device control of our own personal energy infrastructure. They were really into this topic, and I was really quite thrilled with the fact that they really understood the potential of what is emerging in this space.

I asked them — with all of these trends — did they think about what they wanted to be when they grew up. The answer was pretty interesting!


I then took a look at some future jobs and careers — but only observing for them that there would be a lot of fascinating future career options. The future isn’t just about doctor, nurses, firemen and office professionals — it involves a lot of really funky new career. Like agricultural drone pilots, healthcare robots mangers, outer space tour guides (which ratcheted up the energy levels in the classroom quite a bit!), water architects, 3D printer clothing designers, computer hacker anti-hackers (which again, provoked a bit of discussion), remote sports performance analytic, smart highway traffic managers, and smart packaging advertising managers!

Cool future jobs

I closed with some advice on the attitudes and ideas that should carry them forward into the future — and that they really can control their future if they excel in class and in their learning ability. With one big piece of advice:

Do Homework

And at the end! They presented me with a thank you poster — and another very nice surprise!


I think the kids learned quite a bit — how to think about the future, why its important to think about what comes next, and why they should focus on learning how to continually learn.


“One day, the kids in Grade 5 today will be the leaders of tomorrow. As a futurist, I come away with a deep respect for their insight and knowledge.”

I would do the teacher/golf buddy a disservice if I didn’t come away with a summary of my own learnings from this adventurous sessions, so here’s what I know:

  • I have a tremendous respect for how in tune this group was with the future — for example, their discussion around alternative energy sources and micrograms show that they really get that we live in an era of unprecedented opportunity
  • there was a very real realization in the classroom that technology is going to drive forward much of this opportunity
  • they were really excited about using PollEverywhere in the classroom, which allowed for some instant insight and feedback on the issues we were covering. I am still a big believer that tech can play a big role in the classroom
  • on the other hand, they can easily be distracted by tech. The teacher set a rule that when they weren’t participating in the poll, they had to place their mobile device on the floor, screen down, and not being used. Two kids lost their device during the session for disrespecting this rule! I can only imagine if I could have an audience of 7,000 in Las Vegas respect the same rule — as a speaker, on stage, you see countless numbers of people on their devices

One day, the kids in Grade 5 today will be the leaders of tomorrow. As a futurist, I come away with a deep respect for their insight and knowledge.

I also come away with even more respect for my golfing buddy, the teacher of this energized group of 10 year olds. If he has taken his class into the world of science and tech with the topic areas these kids were talking about, then he is doing a remarkable job to shape the future for all us. Now that’s a real futurist!

Thank you for the opportunity, Mr. Bates! See you on the golf course!




In August, I had the pleasure of attended the WorldSkills 2015 competition in Sao Paolo Brazil, and opening the associated leadership forum with senior executives, educators and government officials from around the world.

WorldSkills? You haven’t heard of it? I came away convinced that it is one of the most important, and yet ‘under-the-radar’ global initiatives that  provides future opportunity to the next generation of student, industries and nations. I will be blogging more on my observations in the weeks to come.

For now, read this article which summarized my keynote, and catch a clip where I spoke about the challenges that come from the acceleration of the  knowledge required in the area of skilled trades.

Think Big, Start Small, Scale Fast: Futurist Jim Carroll Speaks At Worldskills Leaders Forum
(Article from the WorldSkills Web site)

On 13 August, at the WorldSkills Leaders Forum, as part of the WorldSkills Conference Programme, Jim Carroll, one of the world’s leading experts on international trends and innovation spoke on the rapid changes facing the world.

“65% of children in preschool today will work in a job that does not exist now,” announced Carroll to the approximately 450 international leaders of technical and vocational education within governments, industry, education, and unions gathered at WorldSkills São Paulo 2015 to build the global skills movement.

Carroll established that today is the era of major transformation and supremacy of big ideas. Organizations not only need to consider what their current competition will be doing in the future, but also need to assume that new entrants to their profession will reinvent the approach of businesses that operate as they have always done.

“Learning is what most adults will do for a living in the 21st century,” noted Carroll. Technology will change every element of our lives at such a rapid pace that half of what vocational students learn in their first year will be replaced with new technology knowledge in three years.

To be successful in a fast paced environment, Carroll recommended people “think big, start small, and scale fast.”

His advice to the WorldSkills community was to constantly question how the hyper connectivity offered by technology will impact the skilled careers. Carroll encouraged participants to look at the future with optimism not fear. Carroll is recognized as a thought-leader and author of “The Future Belongs to Those Who Are Fast” and “Ready, Set, Done: How to Innovate When Faster is the New Fast”.

The WorldSkills Leaders Forum is a global event on the most topical themes – based on input from WorldSkills Delegates and Members. The WorldSkills Leaders Forum event itself serves to kick-start dialogue among attendees – individuals and organizations striving to exploit and develop the power of the global network of WorldSkills to meet the needs of industry, commerce, and those who educate and train the next generation professional – to the mutual benefit of all concerned.


Wrap up summary video from Sao Paolo WorldSkills 2015: “I’m here to inspire the audience about the future, I’m here to get them thinking about the future, and I’m here to get them thinking about what they need to do in terms of innovating and challenging themselves to change to keep up with a fast future.”

Based on the feedback so far, I think I succeeded. Here’s the summary video about my keynote and the panel discussion that followed.

I’ll have a lengthy post of my WorldSkills event soon; let me say it is just one of the most mind-boggling events I have ever attended and participated in – and I’ve been in this business for 20 years!

At my recent opening keynote for the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, part of my role was to challenge the audience to think about how rapidly new careers are emerging all around us. I used an agricultural trend to put it into perspective. It’s a good watch.

Not only I am talking about \vertical farming infrastructure managers, but other forthcoming careers include robotic pharmaceutical therapy monitors, water footprint analysts, and drone helicopter insurance crop risk managers! Not to mention manure managers — a unique, specialized skill set that has already been around for at least a decade.

Some years back, I worked on a project for Deloitte, which resulted in the video, “What Do World Class Innovators Do That Others Don’t Do?” It’s become a very popular video, and keynote topic.

I’ve gone back and had a look at the raw footage, and there is some great stuff that wasn’t used in its entirety. Here’s a clip around the theme of ‘the acceleration of knowledge.’

"Who is going to fix the education system so that it works for me in the future?"

“Who is going to fix the education system so that it works for me in the future?” Think about this kid – he’s going into a world of rapid knowledge obsolescence, the rapid emergence of new careers, and an era of hyper-knowledge. I’ll cover that and more when I keynote the Association of Private Colleges and Universities annual conference in June, 2015.

University Business Magazine has run an article, “Higher ed thought leaders forecast 2015 trends: Presidents and other thought leaders look ahead on cost, technology and learning.”

They called me for my thoughts which I offered up in a concise way:

Trend: When it comes to the future of education, it’s all about “just-in-time knowledge.” Increasingly specialized careers and skills, and accelerating technological change, mean more organizations will need people who can deliver the right skills, at the right time, for the right purpose. Knowledge development and deployment will accelerate to keep up with trend.

The article offers up a good variety of opinions on the future of education; it’s an industry that is ripe for and in the middle of some pretty significant disruption. I’ve done a lot of keynotes in this space, as seen on my Education Trends page.

As I noted in one of the posts there, “In essence, we’re living in a period of time that is witnessing these trends unfold at blinding speed, all related to the evolution of knowledge.

  1. Rapid knowledge obsolescence
  2. Rapid knowledge emergence
  3. Disappearance of existing careers due to 1)
  4. Rapid emergence of new careers due to 2)
  5. An ongoing need for continuous knowledge replenishment because of 1-4
  6. The migration of knowledge generation further away from academia (i.e. community colleges, high end manufacturing skills) because of the need for faster new knowledge deployment
  7. A massively increased challenge from overseas knowledge generation
  8. The fast emergence of new micro-careers because of specialized knowledge
  9. An economy that succeeds through knowledge deployment
  10. A fundamental transformation in knowledge delivery

I’m thrilled to announce that my efforts to help people understand the massive transformation that is occurring in what is known as “education” continues; I’ve been confirmed as the opening keynote speaker for the 2015 Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities annual conference in Denver in June.

There are more thoughts that can be found in my PDF, “21st Century Skills”, below. Read it here or by clicking on the image.


“Skills are Experiential. Skills are Generational. One of the most important assets that a company can invest in is “experiential capital”—that is, the cumulative knowledge the company has generated through innovation, risk, failure and success. Boost that skills capability and you’ve done something that flows onto the bottom line.”


In this clip, I’m doing the opening keynote for the American Society of Testing Professionals — and I am speaking about how the new generation of students acquires and ingests knowledge. Food for thought in terms of disruption of the education industry!

What’s fascinating is the story I tell – how one of my sons has figured out how to get involved in the outsourcing of computer gaming! Worth a watch – and worth thinking about!

Here’s a fun little video clip from a keynote this February, when I opened the annual conference for the Association of Test Publishers. These are the folks who manage the LSAT, GMAT’s and other professional skill tests.

We are in a time that has us witnessing the rapid emergence of all kinds of new careers. I’ve been talking about careers such as “robotic pharmaceutical therapy monitors,” “water footprint analysts,” “vertical farming infrastructure managers,” “drone helicopter insurance crop risk managers”, and, of course, manure managers! You’ll find a link for the latter at the bottom of this post.

People don’t realize how quickly every industry is changing; how quickly new careers are evolving; how rapidly business models are changing. This keynote challenged the audience to think about they would have to do in the future to provide testing and certification for rapidly emerging new professions and skills.