Six key development areas to prepare students for the workplace of the future - Education Matters Magazine
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Six key development areas to prepare students for the workplace of the future

The World Economic Forum’s 2016 Future of Jobs report found that children entering primary school today will find themselves in jobs that do not yet exist. This prompts the question: How can Australian schools better prepare students for the workplace of the future?

“The WEF report highlighted the need for a rethinking of our education systems and emphasises the importance of skills for lifelong learning,” says Ms Marie Kinsella, CEO, International Exhibition & Conference Group – the organisers of the National Education Summit – now running in its eighth year.

“There are a number of strategies that schools should adopt to create the right foundations for success, which will be discussed at length at the upcoming Summit,” says Ms Kinsella. “Attendees can take advantage of paid-for conferences and free seminars on these topics, to provide educators with as much value as possible over the two-day event.”

Ms Kinsella summarises each strategy as six key development areas for teachers to focus on to prepare students for the workplace of the future.

Inclusion of diverse learners

“An inclusive education policy that embraces children with autism, dyslexia, or ADHD can help schools develop 21st-century skills in all students, by fostering an environment of acceptance, collaboration, creativity, problem-solving and adaptability,” comments Ms Kinsella.

It is estimated that between six percent and 10 percent of all children in Australia are diagnosed with ADHD, while a further one percent are affected by autism and 10 percent by dyslexia. Ms Kinsella explains that the education sector is seeing an increasing number of schools that focus on understanding how these conditions affect learning and making the necessary adjustments to their classrooms and learning programmes that enable these students to enjoy positive outcomes.

Emphasising wellbeing

Student wellbeing has come to the forefront of the agenda for educators and schools in recent years, particularly following the impact of the pandemic, which indicated a decline in student wellbeing overall. In addition, to promoting positive health outcomes, cultivating wellbeing in students can also help them get ready for the workplace, according to Ms Kinsella.

“A focus on wellbeing enables teachers and their students to develop emotional intelligence, creativity and resilience – skills that will be in high demand in the workplace of the future. We also know that students who feel safe and supported at school are more likely to enjoy the learning process and to collaborate more with their peers,” she says.

Incorporating STEM across the curriculum

The WEF report recommends that schools address the traditional siloed approach to subject teaching – especially the sciences. “Schools need to weave in STEM teaching across the curriculum. STEM education emphasises problem-solving and critical thinking – both of which are essential 21st-century skills,” states Ms Kinsella. “It also promotes creativity, innovation and collaboration.”

A dedicated conference stream at the National Education Summit will focus on speakers from a variety of backgrounds who will give teachers practical examples and tools on how to incorporate STEM into the classroom.

Building the capacity of school libraries

School libraries hold great potential in the creation of future-focused schools by providing a space where students gain access to information, develop their digital literacy skills, collaborate with peers and practise innovating.

“We have seen the evolution of the traditional school library during our time running the Summit,” explains Ms Kinsella. “As the space where books, computers and brains meet, the school library is the ideal space to create a love for lifelong learning.”

Bolstering literacy

Literacy skills are critical to the workplace of the future because they are the foundation for effective communication and for the development of critical thinking. “When individuals are able to read and analyse complex texts or data, they’re better equipped to evaluate information and make informed decisions, or develop smart solutions to challenging problems,” says Ms Kinsella.

Compared to global averages, Australia’s school literacy rate is generally considered to be relatively high. According to the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results, Australian students ranked 16th out of 79 countries in reading literacy, with an average score of 503. This is above the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average of 487.

“However, there’s still room for improvement. The same PISA results indicated that around 16% of Australian 15-year-olds didn’t meet the minimum proficiency level in reading literacy, and ongoing efforts are needed to improve literacy skills,” says Ms Kinsella.

Supporting struggling students

Holistic education that supports the wellbeing and academic achievement of students – especially those who have experienced trauma or disadvantage – is critical in turning out students who will thrive in the workplace of the future.

Ms Kinsella explains The Berry Street Education Model which prioritises personalised learning, so that each student can reach their full potential. “By supporting the whole student and providing personalised support, the model helps to create a learning environment that is well-equipped to prepare students for success in the 21st-century workplace,” she says.

“It also builds positive relationships which creates a safe and supportive learning environment to promote the development of social, emotional, and academic skills among students.”

Educators will have the opportunity to delve deeper into the six key learning areas to help students prepare for the workplace of the future at the upcoming summit in June 2023.
The National Education Summit is a great place for educators to connect in person and share ideas on the new Australian curriculum and teaching strategies for the future classroom.
Now in its eighth year, the summit will feature more than 100 exhibitors, inlcuding some of the education industry’s foremost leaders in education technology, products and services.

Finding the best way forward, with the National Education Summit

To support Australia’s schools and teachers in achieving these actions, the National Education Summit will be presenting six individual events under one roof, each focused on the key pillars for development.

The summit also features the Classroom of the Future – a two-day workshop program exploring topics such as inclusive practices, digital technology and AI, critical thinking and curriculum design.

“Alongside the dynamic presenters and sessions on offer during the summit, visitors will also have the opportunity to browse through the free trade expo – The Education Show – and see first-hand the offerings from over 100 exhibitors with a focus on educational resources, technologies and support,” concludes Ms Kinsella.

The Summit is supported by educational organisations including The GROK Academy, Australian Education Union, Awards Victoria, Digital Learning and Teaching Victoria (DLTV), School Library Association Victoria (SLAV), Berry Street Educational Model, Queensland School Library Association (QSLA), Eduwebinar, Salutegenics and The Big Sister Experience, Victorian Commercial Teacher’s Association and more.

When and where:

Melbourne: Friday 16 and Saturday 17 June 2023, Melbourne Convention Centre
Brisbane: Friday 4 and Saturday 5 August 2023, Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre
For more information, visit: https://nationaleducationsummit.com.au/

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