The Government’s careers strategy published on 4 December 2017, outlined a long-term plan to build a world-class careers system that will help young people and adults choose the career that is right for them. The subsequent statutory guidance “Careers guidance and access for education and training providers” has also been updated to expand on the aim set out in the strategy to ensure that good careers guidance connects learning to the future. It should motivate young people by giving them a clearer idea of the routes to jobs and careers widening their horizons, challenge stereotypes and raises aspirations. Good careers guidance should also provide young people with the knowledge and skills necessary to make successful transitions to the next stage of their life.
Young people are entering a rapidly changing labour market, with new business models and technologies requiring skills that were previously unknown or judged unimportant. Soft skills are now often thought of as the ones young people will need. Government initiatives intending to improve young people’s employability have tended to focus on boosting skills supply. But there is a growing recognition that it is not enough to help young people develop workplace skills. They also need to be able to use what they have learnt, first to find a job and then to do that job effectively. Indeed the Industrial Strategy Commission has said that ensuring better utilisation of peoples skills must be core to the new strategy.
Let’s reflect on what this looks like in practice:
Let’s think of a child who starts school in September at the age of four.
She will take her GCSEs in 2030 – 12 years from now.
She may graduate in 2035 – 17 years from now.
What are the skills and knowledge that employers will want in 2035?
What are the skills and knowledge the country will need?
So the question that now needs to be asked is not so much what skills are needed or why, both of which have been addressed over the years, but how skills can be best developed and used.
As the Business, Advisory group observed:
“It’s been more, more, more for quite a long time. We now need a massive shift from more to Better “
Are we contributing to making sure that we are giving the best advice for a fulfilling, rewarding career which allows young people to have a secure and comfortable life?
How are we preparing for these questions and indeed have we even thought about how we are contributing to this?
Are we guiding and advising them on the skills and knowledge that they will need in this changing world and to be globally competitive in 2035?
The answers to these critical questions will determine their future wellbeing and the future the wellbeing of millions of other children.
What we do know about the world of work our young people will enter in 2035 will be very different to the world of today, the speed and scale of digital change are both profound and electrifying – and it’s only getting faster.
Digital and robotic technology is opening up extraordinary possibilities for young people that have the potential to benefit virtually every area of their lives. The growing capability of digital technology, robots and artificial intelligence will have a profound effect on our society and the wider world.
What skills will our young people need to secure to be able to compete and contribute 17 years from now?
In this technical age, it is hardly surprising that they will need sound technical skills. But perhaps more interestingly, the IPPR report found that they will also need another set of skills – personal skills such as communication, problem-solving and emotional intelligence.
These skills will be essential. The pace of technological change may mean that young people of today will have several careers, not just one. They will need to learn new skills throughout their lives, they will need to be resilient, adaptable and problem solvers.
But, what is surprising is that as leaders of education and business don’t collaborate effectively to better prepare our children for their futures. The insight of the business sector in helping understand the knowledge and skills that the country will need in 10 years’, 20 years’, 30 years’ time, is essential in building an education system that is fit for the future. Working together, the worlds of business and education will provide a powerful lobby for a new way of constructing education policy. How are we contributing to this debate?