Is education trendy?

I have been reading the 2014 global trend forecast from Globaltrends.com –more specific link.

It’s interesting reading and was good food for thought for me. It’s so easy to get stuck in a strictly education based mindset and forget that we are educating kids for society, rather than next year’s teacher(s). Simon Breakpear talks about connecting with people and information outside of the education sector but how often do we actually do that? It was therefore timely for me to stumble across a report on global economic and social trends, not just education based trends.

I was particularly interested in 2 trends, one around social entrepreneurship, and the other focusing on ‘fighting unemployability and unemployerability.’

Trend 9. Fighting unemployability and unemployerability.

“Companies are desperate for talented workers – yet unemployment rates remain high. Polarization towards higher and lower skill levels is squeezing mid-level jobs, even as employers complain that education systems are not preparing students for the jobs of the future. Fighting unemployability is driving new government-business partnerships worldwide, and will remain a critical issue given massive youth unemployment. Employers must also focus on organizational unemployerability – not being able to attract and retain desired talent – as new generations demand exciting and meaningful work where they can make an impact. If they can’t find it, they will quickly move on or swell the growing ranks of young entrepreneurs.”

I wonder what we are doing about this. On the one hand it is great to hear that there are growing number of young entrepreneurs (I hope they are successful ones!) But are we reviewing and critiquing our day to day practices with enough rigour? What content are we teaching and is it meaningful and useful? What skills and competencies are we teaching explicitly? Where is the balance between content knowledge and skill acquisition? Are we asking the business sector for critique of our schools’ practice? Are the things we do in schools useful for these businesses’ future employees?

The article goes on to outline a list of skills businesses would like students to acquire.

“Social intelligence: Companiesare becoming less hierarchical, more networked and increasingly virtual making the ability to collaborate, build relationships, and trust even more important skills in future.

Agile thinking: Creative thinking, the ability to innovate, deal with complexity, ambiguity, and paradoxes and prepare for more than one scenario is critical for future success.

Human-machine collaboration and co-dependence: It is no longer a question of whether we want to be part of workplace automation and human-machine interactions but how the human worker can work best alongside the machine.

Cross-cultural skills: Cross-cultural understanding and communication will play a critical role in successfully carrying out business in a globalized world.

The innovative, entrepreneurial mindset: The ability to innovate is a skill in growing demand and often linked to entrepreneurship.

Leadership skills: Three skills are of increasing importance are being able to manage ambiguity, the ability to manage contradictions, and engagement.”

 

This is where I think it is potentially easier for secondary schools to prepare their students for future employment opportunities as they are simply much closer to it. In primary schools, how effective are we at crystal ball gazing and teaching students useful skills for the present and the future?
I think it is time to reflect…

What are we doing in schools to prepare students well for society? How are we doing our bit to bring down youth unemployment in our ever changing society?

How ‘in tune’ with society and ‘on trend’ are we?

 

 

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