Essential Skills for the Workforce of the Future
As the DfE set out its plans for welcoming all children back to schools in September this week, there was concern amongst the education community at their plan to ‘suspend’ non-core subjects for two terms so that pupils could ‘catch-up’ on English and Maths. Perhaps because of the furious backlash that this leaked announcement caused, the government quickly rowed back on this plan and confirmed that the full curriculum is still to be taught, albeit with the ‘non-core’ subjects being adapted to include more English and Maths content. This got us to thinking, what are the key skills that our young people need to develop to prepare them for the world of work?
A career in any field requires the ability to communicate clearly, whether in written or verbal form. This does of course require a certain level of skill with the English language, but the best communicators also tend to have a high level of emotional intelligence. This means that they can control and express their own emotions appropriately whilst also being finely attuned to other’s emotions, allowing them to adapt their communication style as appropriate to the individual situation. This skill is something that is learnt through interactions with people throughout life, as well as prepared for through the (non-statutory) PSHE curriculum. Arguably then, it is important to get our children back into school as soon as possible not to catch-up on their language skills, but to let them practice and develop their emotional intelligence.
The threat of automation is looming over almost every sector, but if you don’t fancy being replaced by a machine, your best asset would be a creative mind. Jobs involving creative thinking cannot, yet, be replicated successfully by computers. Creative thinking can be developed across any subject but is obviously most prevalent in arts subjects such as Music, Drama, Art and Dance. Pupils who study a broad range of arts subjects will develop the skills needed to future-proof their careers.
A love of Learning
No industry stands still for long, and therefore those who actively seek out new knowledge, skills and understanding will be real assets to any workplace. Those who have had a bad experience at school (perhaps through being force-fed English and Maths!) may associate any form of learning with negative feelings, or conversely it’s possible that they may suddenly discover a love of learning when it is done on their own terms!
In order to solve problems and drive innovation in the workplace, employers need workers with strong critical analysis skills. These are the people who can view a situation from all angles, using reasoning and logic to evaluate problems and suggest solutions. Those who have studied History, Geography or Science are often really good at critical analysis, since the study of these subjects is based around that process.
An inclusive attitude
Times are a-changing, and what was appropriate 10 or 20 years ago is no longer deemed so, as evidenced by the removal of statues and television episodes in response to the Black Lives Matter campaign. Schools have been championing inclusion for decades now, so our young people should be graduating with an attitude of acceptance and respect for all the different peoples in our society. This will not only serve them well in the workplace, in terms of interacting with their colleagues, but when harnessed will also help their employers appeal to and serve a wider range of the community, leading to enhanced PR, and increased revenue!
The good news for the next generation is that they’ve had a crash course in the important skill of adaptability before they’ve even reached the workplace! Having to adapt to home learning, social distancing, and lockdown rules, while a challenge that nobody wanted, at least shows this generation that they have the ability to turn on a sixpence if the need arises!
So if you have a young person at home, are looking to hire through an apprenticeship or graduate scheme, or just want to improve your own workplace skills, it’s essential to value and engage with a wide range of educational and life opportunities. That way we can build an effective workforce for the future.