What skills do students need to thrive in the future?

What skills do students need to thrive in the future?

A new report warns that Australian schools are failing to prepare young people for the future of work.

The policy roundtable report by the Mitchell Institute, titled: ‘Preparing young people for the future of work’, warns that changes in young people’s pathways into work have “clear implications” for education and economic policy in Australia.

“Technology is rapidly disrupting how we live and work – many tasks at the core of low and medium skill jobs are being automated or contracted offshore,” the report said.

“Young people will need different skill sets to thrive in technology-rich, globalised, competitive job markets. We need to adapt our approaches to education so that young people are equipped with the capabilities that will enable them to thrive in these complex education and employment settings.”

Students lacking digital skills

In Australia, 90% of future jobs will involve digital literacy, yet 35% of 15-year-olds are not digitally literate or proficient in technology.

So what are the skills that Australian students need to thrive in the future?

A recent study by the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) revealed the top four factors that can accelerate the transition from full-time education to full-time work.

They are: enterprise skills; being able to undertake relevant paid work experience; finding paid employment in a sector which is growing; and an optimistic mindset.

FYA CEO, Jan Owen, said the Foundation’s ‘New Work Order’ reports highlight the transformational changes affecting the way Australians work and live.

“Technological advancement and global trends are changing the nature of work, the structure of economies, and the types of skills needed by labour forces across the world,” Owen said.

“The average transition time from education to work is now 4.7 years compared to 1 year in 1986. We wanted to look more deeply into this period and what young people could do during this time to accelerate their transition to full-time work.”

However, according to the Skilling Australia Foundation (SAF), success can also depend on the kind of full-time education students choose to take.

A report by the SAF found that in comparison with university undergraduate programs, vocational education usually provides students with a faster, more cost-effective pathway to complete a qualification and enter the workforce

Principals need to rethink career advice to students

Nick Wyman, SAF CEO, told The Educator that principals and career advisers should read the report and reconsider the type of advice they are giving to students.

“We hope that principals make a greater effort to understand the employment prospects which can be accessed through vocational pathways and VET study,” Wyman said.

“The reality is, not all of us are academically inclined, but this emphasis on ATAR’s and the ‘university or bust’ mentality is causing a lot of undue stress on young people.”

The Educator's upcoming Education Leaders Summit will include a panel on how schools can prepare students with 21st-century skills.

The panel will explore topics such as what skills students will need in 2030, how to promote critical thinking in the information economy and helping students become independent, self-directed learners.

On 17 August, the leadership stream of The Educator Leaders Summit will include a panel, titled: 'Preparing students with 21st Century Skills. 

The topics that will be covered include the skills that students will need in 2030, helping students become self-directed learners and promoting critical thinking in the information economy

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