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Preparing Students for the Jobs of the Future.
Q1 2018 Edition
Research, including the World Economic Forum and PISA show a future where automation and robotics will become more prevalent. Schools are needing to develop “soft skills”, a suite of attributes that include social abilities like networking, communication and problem solving. A recent report from PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) has revealed the countries that are the best at promoting collaborative problem solving amongst 15-year-old students. Ranking highest was Singapore, Japan and South Korea with Australia coming in 8th.
Collaborative problem solving is a fundamental part of the “soft skills” which the workforce of the future will be looking for. The Hamilton Project, an economic research group that is part of the U.S. think-tank the Brookings Institution, produced a report that found hiring managers were worried about a lack of both cognitive skills (those being maths and language) and non-cognitive skills, the so called “soft skills”.
This report also showed that jobs requiring strong manual or maths skills had been replaced over time by careers in services and work requiring stronger social skills. This leads to the question that despite these “soft skills” being innate to a degree, can they also be taught and if so how easy are they to learn?
“Creativity will become one of the top three skills workers will need. With the avalanche of new products, new technologies and the new ways of working, [employees] are going to have to become more creative to benefit from these changes”.
– The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report, 2016.
The “soft skills” are likely to be best acquired at an early age and the PISA analysis shows that some education systems are taking steps in the right direction. Countries such as Finland and France have taken steps to include collaboration as part of their curriculums. STEAM educators are also looking at this with many STEAM related curriculums focusing on collaboration as part of problem-based learning objectives.
The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report from 2016 argued that by 2020 “Creativity will become one of the top three skills workers will need. With the avalanche of new products, new technologies and the new ways of working, [employees] are going to have to become more creative to benefit from these changes”.
The report then goes on to make the comparison between hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills being those that are teachable, and you usually obtain a degree or diploma for, such as accountant, forklift driver, software programmer, etc. The comparison made is that there is no degree or diploma awarded for soft skills as these are often earned through life experiences and on the job training. This then showing the irony that hard skills are easier to learn than soft skills.
The fact that these soft skills are going to be so important in the future workplace prove they are worth investing in at an early age and that many of the fundamentals to these soft skills lie at the heart of STEAM related education programs.