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Educating for the Future of Work

Friday 25, Sep 2020

Disruptive innovations are creating new industries and business models, and destroying old ones. New technologies, data analytics and social networks are having a huge impact on how people communicate, collaborate and work. As generations collide, workforces become more diverse and people work longer; traditional career models may soon be a thing of the past. Many of the roles and job titles of tomorrow will be ones we’ve not even thought of yet. PwC, 2014

A recent roundtable gathering of some of Geelong’s educational leaders considered the key issues currently facing the G21 region.

Discussions highlighted that whilst we cannot predict with certainty the types of jobs that will exist in the future, it was acknowledged that today’s students will need a variety of skills and technical competencies that will position them for success in a world that requires critical thinking, collaboration, adaptability, grit and perseverance, and much less reliance on rote learning of facts and data.

Automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are quickly reshaping our economy. They are the engines driving much of the transformation in the workplace, with experts predicting 45 percent of today’s jobs will soon be done by machines. This rapid development brings the promise of higher productivity, economic growth and increased efficiencies, but also raises challenging questions about the broader impact of automation on future jobs, and the nature of work itself.

So what skills will today’s students need to be successful in this uncertain, and perhaps intensely competitive workplace of the future? Educational systems are quickly reimagining learning in order to maintain pace with the changing nature of work. The digital age has led us to gradually change our teaching and learning practices from focussing on knowledge attainment to more skills-based learning that promotes critical thinking, knowledge creation, and learning through network connections and industry partnerships.

A McKinsey survey recently highlighted that 40 percent of employers considered a lack of 21sts century skills as the main reason for entry-level job vacancies, with sixty percent noting that new graduates were not adequately prepared for the world of work. These 21st century skills, including critical thinking, technology literacy, flexibility and creativity are more important to students than ever before. They not only provide a framework for successful learning in the classroom, but ensure students are ready to thrive in a world where change is constant and learning never stops. 

In line with educational research, Geelong’s industry leaders suggest there are gaps in technical skills such as science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM subjects) and in soft skills such as communication and teamwork. Not only do they provide a framework for successful learning in the classroom, but they ensure students can thrive in a world where change is constant and learning never stops. 

Add to this our findings from the current COVID-19 pandemic, which have shown that we are no longer confined to learning or employment by location. The future of work will allow the best talent to work for any organisation, from anywhere in the world. And as educators, we will continue to develop learning in ways that will create equality for all students and transform the way they learn - to stop teaching students what to think, and teach them how to think.

With thanks to our blog article author:

Catherine Middlemiss
Director of Development, Marketing and Communications, Sacred Heart College Geelong
Board Director, Geelong Chamber of Commerce