Preparing our kids for the future workplace

‘A child today can expect to change jobs at least seven times over the course of their lives and five of those jobs don’t exist yet.’ Esteban Bullrich, Minister of Education, Argentina.

According to research from the World Economic Forum, 35% of the skills necessary to thrive in a job today will be different five years from now.

The Forum report, The Future of Jobs, looks at the employment, skills and workforce strategy for the future. The report asked chief human resources and strategy officers from leading global employers what the current shifts mean, specifically for employment, skills and recruitment across industries and geographies.

How do we prepare Kilvington students for the future workplace if we don’t know what the jobs of tomorrow will look like? What skills should they focus on developing now to succeed tomorrow? What subjects should they choose?

There are reams of research providing helpful indicators. The prevailing common thread points to the need to develop ‘soft skills’ such as creativity, critical thinking, teamwork, digital savviness, resilience and adaptability.

Regarding adaptability, OECD research argues that ‘adaptive expertise’ – the ability to apply meaningfully learned knowledge and skills flexibly and creatively in different situations – is the over-arching goal of education.

Employers reinforce this, and it makes sense when the goal posts are continually shifting at an increasingly rapid rate.

‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution will mean that, over the next four years, a third of the skills the economy needs will change due to automation. It is therefore impossible to predict which ‘hard skills’ children in today’s classrooms will need for jobs they will enter in 15 years’ time. Who could have conceived two decades ago that there would be a whole new industry in search engine optimisation?

The jobs that even artificial intelligence can’t replace will be those that require strong human character traits. Workers will need empathy – the ability to persuade and to work well with others. They will need a positive attitude – the ability to relearn, go back to college, and adapt to new situations as old skills become obsolete. Thriving in this uncertain world, where careers could change every few years, will also require resilience.’These ‘soft skills’ are hard to teach – and, as much as mathematics or science, will demand great teachers’.

Vikas Pota, Chief Executive, Varkey Foundation.

Developing the Complete Package

Academic Excellence is one of our key pillars at Kilvington. We will always encourage our students to aim high; to extend themselves to the best of their abilities. But, not at the cost of developing a well-rounded young person, confident that they have what it takes to flourish in an ever-changing workforce.

Parent surveys conducted by Independent Schools Victoria reveal that parents are also looking to independent schools to provide more than just academic results.  From a list of the top 10 reasons parents choose to send their children to independent schools – number one was an emphasis on the development of sound morals, values, beliefs and attitudes. Academic results ranked eighth.

Character = Soft Skills

Kilvington’s Character Initiative has been developed specifically to prepare our students for life at school, out of school and for the future. Those soft skills demanded by employers are represented by the character traits we select each semester as well as our whole-of-school curricular and co-curricular programs.

Semester one’s trait was ‘courage’. Semester two is ‘curiosity’; both of these are important attributes that drive forward motion and growth. It takes courage to navigate an uncertain landscape and curiosity to provide direction.

A by-product of building character – or those all-important soft skills – is strong academic performance. This can be evidenced by our consistently excellent NAPLAN and VCE results. Yes, we care about academic performance, but we deeply value character, care and community. Kilvington is about the whole child, not just a slice.

Fast Facts
• A fifteen-year-old today can expect upwards of seventeen jobs in five different industries over the course of their working life.
• Since 2013, the demand for digital skills has increased by more than 200%, critical thinking by more than 150%, creativity by more than 60% and presentation skills by 25%. These are the New Basics that entrants to the economy already require, and which will be essential into the future.
• This generation of young people are global, digital, social and mobile citizens who rely a high level of visual communication.
• Over 4 million Australians are currently freelancers and/or entrepreneurs undertaking project based work (H. Ranson 2017).

Adapted from an article by Principal, Jon Charlton, first published in K News Winter 2017.

Source Material:

The most important skills of tomorrow, according to five global leaders CNBC October 2016