Education special feature: the ‘new basics’ of education

Photo: iStock

Photo: iStock

A revolution of sorts has been brewing in classrooms, and boardrooms, across Australia since the start of the new millennium.

It’s the type of innovation that has seen a big change in the way students and employees are learning and the types of subjects they are being taught.

No longer are the basics of education – reading, writing and arithmetic – enough to see students move on to a successful career.

Now, according to the experts, they need “enterprising skills”. That is, be savvy technology users, able to communicate and collaborate, be financially literate and able to think critically and problem solve in order to prosper.

These skills are being hailed “the new basics” in education and, according to the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA), they’re being highly sought-after in jobs now – and will be more so by 2030.

 

Photo: pexels.com

Photo: pexels.com

 

Jan Owen , the chief executive officer of FYA, says research by the FYA shows jobs are now becoming far more freelance, or gig-based, than the traditional “job with the same company for decades”.

“Our research over the past three years has picked up a really, really strong trend,” Owen says.

“We started looking at job ads to see what employers are asking for and … what used to be called ‘soft skills’ and ‘nice to haves’ like communication and problem solving and creativity and collaboration, now employers … will pay more for these skills alongside the ‘technical skills’ [like those a doctor or engineer may have],” she says.

“We saw that by 2030 there will be an increase in people needing to be far more autonomous and enterprising and entrepreneurial in the workplace.

“Workers will spend 100 per cent more time problem solving and communicating than we do now.”

Enterprising skills are being used in jobs which are moving towards teaching the “technical” know-how on the job rather than in school.

And like technical skills, enterprising skills are transferable, meaning students will be able to take them with them no matter what job they have or work they are doing. “Career management is going to be a really big thing,” Owen says. “[Because] how do you manage multiple portfolios of work from a financial and management perspective?

“That’s not being taught because that wasn’t part of the world before.”

Owen says these changes in the approach to education is not only happening in Australia but worldwide.

“In Australia we’re at the front end of working out how do you teach this, how do you measure them and how do you give them the same weighting as technical skills?”

She says the Australian government needs to look at making changes the national curriculum and to have plans and policies for superannuation and the retirement of young people heading into the workforce of the future who may not have steady work.

In Melbourne, this new approach to education and career is something schools have been grappling with since the start of the new millennium.

Mentone Girls’ Grammar in Melbourne’s south east set up an Enterprise Academy which principal Fran Reddan says seeks to teach students enterprising skills from a young age.

“Our Enterprise Academy is working to harness the strong enterprising culture across the school, making the boundaries between classroom, industry, individual agency and real-world thinking more porous, aligned with collaborative, hands-on, experiential teaching and learning,” Reddan says.

“We are also experimenting with how to measure the impact of our work – it is not just about our students’ creativity in running their own businesses, but involves the growth of ethical, confident young women who can facilitate their own success now and for their future.

“Our goal is to develop entrepreneurs and creative thinkers from the ground up, to change mindsets and build much needed capability through a range of education programs specifically aimed at young women, who are often significantly under-represented in this area.”

 

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