How do we help our students learn today and prepare them for tomorrow?

The National Literacy Trust recently announced through their research that half of teachers in the UK feel that the national curriculum is not equipping young people with the right skillsets for learning.

Specifically, this refers to digital skillsets and the skills for the jobs that do not yet exist. Economies across the globe are being transformed due to current technologies. We know that AI, robotics and cloud computing are leading this new revolution. We also know that automation will play a significant role when combined with the other interacting trends, such as ever-changing demographics, urbanisation and globalisation, as well as politics and climate change, this only highlights that student skills need to be evolved and developed to essentially equip them for the workplace of the future.

This will see 10% of the workforce in the UK, specifically within education, health and other public sector jobs grow rapidly. In turn, 70% of jobs in other industries will be subject to a more automated process.

So, what does this mean?

We need to gauge and understand the skillsets that are likely to be a priority for employers. We know that these are certainly interpersonal skills, cognitive ability, creativity and problem-solving skills. The Future of Jobs report highlights additional “soft skills” but these are also “future ready skills”. These will aid and complement the work that is carried out through advanced automation workflows. This is the reality of the ongoing transformation we see in the world today.

If we look back two or three generations, the reality is most workers probably had one or possibly two “jobs or careers for life” but this is no longer the case. Students in education today, according to research, are likely to do between 20 – 30 jobs in their life time. As reference, myself; I am in my seventh job having left the official education system in 1996. Now, we know this is not because students of today are not likely to be good employees. Instead, we are seeing a rise in industries that have not existed as mainstream, such as jobs in animation, multimedia and design engineering. In fact, we have seen a reduction in jobs that require less demanding digital skills, such as data entry, inputting and accounting (which are becoming ever automated).

Our education system needs to make necessary changes. The current UK education system is heavily focused on results, exams, more results and, guess what? It’s a stubborn and unadaptable model that has not changed for decades. We have to change these behaviours and we must intervene, be honest and make students aware of their future employer and industry requirements. Resilience and adaptability are additional important skills and to achieve them, we need to be regularly supporting those skills I mentioned earlier on in this article.

With teacher workload ever increasing and their time being more constrained, we need to look at a curriculum that is multi-disciplinary. 46% of teachers that have adopted STEM Learning techniques in their teaching, have seen that a focus on creativity and critical thinking in subjects such as science, tech and maths enable better outcomes and in turn, proving that building a culture of curiosity facilitates and better enables life-long learning.

If we can better predict these outcomes and understand the evidence gained, then why could art not support maths or science support drama? Here’s the irony! Nine out of ten schools are being forced to cut subject time, staff and facilities in creative subjects in favour of the traditional subjects due to the results driven pressures we currently face; the same pressures that are stifling the education system. In fact, our current 14 – 16 year olds in school spend over half of their time in the classroom that is dedicated to maths, sciences and english. Do our surgeons of the future need to have just these key components, or they also need more tactile skills, manual skills such as sewing and stitching?

With the 8.5 million students in education currently, and the additional 100,000 every year, we need make change happen, because (and you’re going to hate this) funding is a huge issue, it is still falling and will continue to do so by 4.6% by 2020 (per pupil funding).

Damian Hinds partly turned to the IT industry when he started talking about making “the classroom of the future” and therefore, spending money on IT, means you should be able to have evidence of impact. Learning is about effecting change, but has to be benefiting to teachers and students alike.

Therefore, with all the above in mind, should we judge whether a student has gone through university or an apprenticeship-led education? Should we be dictating their journey?Ultimately, businesses need to better support their future employees through mentoring and offering experience-led work placements.

The current education system perhaps isn’t “fit for purpose” and this means it is going to have a negative impact on our students and their future roles. The responsibility shouldn’t just sit with our students.

It’s about creating efficient and effective learning and changing the classroom of the present to be the classroom of the future.

Tom Able-Green

UK Education Solutions Manager

Academia

Email: tom.able-green@academia.co.uk   Phone: 01992 662 845