20th century education was focused on providing basic cognitive skills and a stockpile of knowledge. You chose an area where job possibilities were bright, gathered knowledge and were set for life.
Today you don’t change several jobs you change several careers!
21st century education needs to be different because rate of change is so rapid that just keeping up-to-date in any domain is a challenge. You also need to make sure that your skills don’t become obsolete and that you are able to make the most of new opportunities.
Thus, focus of education today has to be on acquiring fundamental life skills like yearning-to-learn, learning-to-self-learn, learning-to-think and learning-to-be, that help you reinvent yourself.
With these life skills you can discover what is it you are passionate about. Use self-learning and thinking skills to gain knowledge about that domain. And, keep yourself up-do-date through participation in knowledge networks and communities of practice.
Even if the area you are deeply interested in is a very niche area, chances are that you can still make it a financially viable proposition. Technology will help you consolidate a fragmented or dispersed market. Say, you like to write on a topic which is not very popular. You can still have a good fan following because internet and content aggregation sites will help you reach out to a global audience and consolidate your reader-base.
Acquiring new knowledge is easier today because abundant content is available. Distance learning through electronic means makes learning easy and cost-effective. You can also participate in knowledge networks where, by listening you can keep up-to-date and by contributing you can deepen your understanding.
21st century skills like deriving insight from information can also help you spot threats and opportunities earlier and give you time for course correction.
Say due to external factors like financial crisis, outsourcing or obsolescence of your skills because of automation you lose your job. Or you realize that better opportunities exist in another domain. Or a new domain comes up. In all these situations too life skills like self-learning and thinking skills can be used to reinvent your self.