Equipping Teens for the New World of Work

Wednesday, 06 July 2022

We all know the world of work has changed! If you think about how your role has changed over the last 5 years or 10 years, or in my case over 25 plus years - it has changed exponentially.

A recent survey conducted by McCrindle (2022) noted that educational institutions need to effectively equip students in core competencies (problem solving, critical thinking, communication skills and self-management skills) as well as essential character qualities such as persistence, initiative, adaptability, and self-awareness. He also noted in his 2021 study that young people (16 to 24-year-olds) were looking for future careers that had a purpose, that aligns with their values, have strong social connections and are flexible. Our workplaces have made or are making this transition but our institutions, such as schools, need to as well.

Furthermore, the Future of Jobs Report (2018) from the World Economic Forum notes the changes being driven by what is called the fourth industrial revolution. This notion includes advances in AI, mobility and advanced manufacturing and their impact on global employment and workplace trends. In the UK, this change is expected to represent a shift of employment opportunities requiring more adaptable learning skills. It is expected that the Australian economy will shift in this direction as well.

Schools though are changing - some slowly, some quickly. Schools of today need to prepare the adults of tomorrow for this rapid change. We need to be entrepreneurial, collaborative, creative, and innovative. Learning needs to be personalised, responsive and customised. Students also need to engage and take ownership of their learning journey. Our curriculum needs to include coding, design, and sustainability practices and needs to include financial literacies. Classrooms need to be flexible, social, comfortable, interactive and accessible. 

Recently, I visited an old friend in Melbourne who is a leader in workplace enablement and change management for corporates across Australia and internationally. I could see his workplace link mission to people, place and technology. Our schools have so much to learn from these effective, people-focused, technology-enabled environments. It should be noted, however, that many schools have learnt much from the global remote schooling experiment that was COVID. Expectations have now also shifted. Parents, staff and students are now expecting elements of hybrid learning or at least multiple avenues of communication. They expect learning needs to be real world, connected and asynchronous. All schools should be having these conversations with their communities and taking the lead for the betterment of their students today and for the new world of work. 

One final thought concerns transition to work opportunities. Communities (schools with  businesses and other agencies) need to provide early opportunities for career education, for workplacement, for internships, for school-based apprenticeships and traineeships together with the old fashioned work experience block but that is a focus area for another day. 

Nick Johnstone