A report by one of Australia’s major banks has revealed what Year 10-12 students think of their educational experience and future prospects.
NAB’s 2018 Independent Schools Survey, which collated data from more than 300 girls and boys currently in Years 10-12, found that amid a sense of concern about the future, they remain optimistic about their ability to change it for the better.
“What comes through very clearly is our country is in good hands as the next generation of workers, parents, business owners and community leaders, start to make their mark,” said Dean Pearson, NAB’s head of behavioural and industry economics.
“Teenagers are concerned about the future – their own and [their country's] more generally – but they’re not going to live their lives as passive observers. They want to be proactive in shaping their future and that of our country.”
The survey also found that Year 10-12 students don’t believe their voice is being sufficiently heard – particularly by governments.
One frequently cited culprit of growing teenage stress, said Pearson, is social media.
“This group spends a lot of time on it – two hours or more a day is not uncommon,” he said.
However, while the students surveyed recognised many of social media’s shortcomings, they were more likely to highlight its benefits. These include keeping in touch with friends, staying informed about big issues such as world politics and the environment, and as a key platform for them to be heard.
“This is also an entrepreneurial generation, perhaps by default, as the pace of change necessitates them taking greater control of their careers and lives,” Pearson said.
“Most have or aspire to have a part time job, and a large number would love to start their own business, even while still a school – and, when they leave school most plan to go to university.”
Pearson said the current generation has “very high expectations” about the type of organisation they want to work for and the positive impact their work will have on the world.
“Passion for what they do is extremely important to them. And, if finding a job or advancing their careers requires moving overseas, they’re ready to do so,” he said.
“They also have strong expectations with regards to gender equality both at work and at home – raising children should be a shared responsibility and men and women should always be paid the same for the same job.”
Importantly, said Pearson, while some differences remain, many of the traditional gender biases in areas such as numeracy, literacy, leadership, speaking up and business are “fundamentally challenged” by this research.
“It was very heartening to see that when girls and boys and girls were asked to self‐rate their own abilities in these areas, there was little difference between how girls and boys saw themselves,” Pearson said.
“Schools should be extremely proud of that result.”