New studies from the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) are shaping the way students and educators look at developing marketable skills for the modern workplace. These studies analysed job opportunities to identify the skills employers are looking for. Changing expectation of essential business skills in demand across all industries are clearly showing the advantages for new workers that have “enterprise skills”.
The big data behind these reports comes from over 6000 job websites over three years, resulting in 4.2 million unique job listings. From each posting, 50 fields were analysed, including job titles, industry, salaries, experience, and education and skill requirements. Desirable skills were standardised from synonymous words appearing throughout the job listings.
These routinely included basic skills transferable to a wide variety of employment opportunities that enable young people to navigate more complex demands and careers typical of today’s professions. At the core of these skills are five defined fundamentals:
- Digital literacy
- Critical Thinking
- Presentation skills
- Problem solving
These abilities are quite different from technical skills, which are defined by the needs of certain roles or industries. For instance, a computer programmer and a chemist might have widely different or even some similar technical skills, but the demand for these specific job skills will vary according to employer needs, whereas demonstrated enterprise skills such as problem solving and communication are valued assets regardless of the technical skills required.
Various forms of testing, such as a career personality test, have been introduced to help students/graduates increase awareness of their own native ability before emphasising technical training.
The studies have found that demand for these enterprise skills is on the rise and will continue with future job openings. Employers of the future will emphasise these enterprise skills 70% more than in the past. As there is a higher demand for these skills, employers will tend to pay more for them.
Thus in preparing students to meet these expectations it became prudent to develop a national enterprise skill-building strategy that would:
- Start in early primary school and be built on consistently throughout the course of education.
- Involve students, schools, parents, and industry in crafting learning opportunities both in and outside classrooms.
- Be provided with means such as immersive experiences with peers which would make young people appreciate and desire these skills.
- Compile accurate and updated information regarding where future jobs will be found and exposure to the skills allowing students to navigate multiple career paths.
In all industrialised, commercial societies we need the coming generations to be both financially and digitally literate, innovative and adaptable, and able to navigate and thrive in the various conditions they will encounter in their professional lives.
Existing educational institutions produce thousands of graduates each year who are lacking the skills needed to meet employer demands. There is a need to promote teaching and training methods for instilling enterprise skills in all students. The FYA reports emphasise the need to adapt our training systems to these essential skill sets through:
- Establishing new curriculum;
- Updating teaching methods;
- Training and developing teachers to embrace these skills;
- Partnering with employers to engage in apprenticeship programs, career education, and other instructional resources;
- Providing young people with a clearer picture with live job market data.
Leading educators around the world are now inquiring about the adoption of teaching methods that focus on collaborative work, cross-curricular skill sets, and hands-on experience rather than the traditional classroom review of discrete subjects. Project-based learning and preparatory means like a career personality test should begin well before a student is “graduated” to face a world of opportunity without real-world experience.