February 25, 2020

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Skills Young People Need for the Future

February 25, 2020

The Foundation of Young Australians (FYA) released a report in 2017 predicting what skills and capabilities will matter most for Australian jobs in 2030.


The report aimed to give young people a chance to understand current changes to the job market and help them adapt by highlighting key areas of change in the future.


The fifth instalment of FYA’s research New Work Smarts, analysed over 20 billion hours of work across 400 occupations to predict that every job will be affected in some way by automation by 2030. By that year, Australian’s current primary school students will be almost finished high school and high school students will be joining the workforce.


We therefore need to make sure we are preparing our young people for the world of work as it will be, rather than as it is now or as it has been in the past.


According to the report,  young people are more likely to experience a portfolio career, with 17 jobs over 5 careers across their lifetime.


FYA CEO Jane Owen said that it is important to move away from predicting which jobs will be replaced by automation, and instead focus on preparing for a future where every job is changed by it.

“What this report shows us is that to be ‘work smart’ in the future, young people will need not only acquire foundation and technical skills, but be able to use these in increasingly entrepreneurial and creative ways, as well as possessing a thirst for ongoing learning,” Ms Owen said.


Key stats

The study predicts that by 2030 young people will:

  • Spend 30% more time per week learning skills on the job

  • Spend 100% more time at work solving problems

  • Spend significantly more time critical thinking and using STEM skills

  • Use written and verbal skills for 29 hours per week

  • Need entrepreneurial mindset due to less management, less organisational co-ordination and less teaching

Job Clusters

The study analysed over 2.7 million job advertisements to find seven job clusters in the Australian economy.

 Image courtesy of FYA



What does this mean for young people now?

Ms Owen said a new mindset is needed that focuses on skills and capabilities rather than specific jobs.

“To ensure young Australians are prepared and equipped for their futures, FYA is calling for a renewed, comprehensive and inter-generational investment in Australia’s young people,” she said.


Currently in our schools we are teaching students a range of skills that the curriculum suggests will help them gain entry to Higher or Vocational Education.  STEM skills are starting to be addressed.  Students re being encouraged to be the best they can be within the system. (ie Obtain a high ATAR)


However, where are we preparing them for being entrepreneurial? Some schools, for example, are introducing programs such as ‘Girls Invent’ in Victoria where young women are encouraged to think outside the square, invent new products and present them to industry with the possibility of them being taken to market. But more schools need to be delivering these types of programs.


And where are young being supported in finding where they fit in the seven categories outlined above. Or to navigate the overwhelming amount of information out there when trying to choose subjects in the final years of secondary school or apply for courses/apprenticeships/jobs at the end of year 12?


There are too few schools that have enough Career Development Practitioners employed to support students on a daily basis let alone  to a level that will make them prepared for the new world of work. But change is starting to happen. After the 'Inquiry into career advice activities in Victorian schools' was published in August 2018 a number the Victorian Government took action.

The Department of Education and Training (DEET) in 2019 began implementing  a range of career programs in government schools. In partnership with the Career Education Association of Victoria (CEAV) and Career Analysts  it rolled out the delivery of  my career insights from year 9. School teachers are being upskilled as Career Practitioners to deliver programs in schools.  DEET are also  working with the Victorian Curriculum Assessment Authority (VCAA) to find ways to deliver careers education across the curriculum. 


All schools  really need to have a quality team of qualified career practitioners supported by the principal and with representation on the leadership team. Some schools are already doing this but these are few and far between. All schools also need an appropriate number of Career Practitioners to students - 1 for every 450 students - as per the recommendations in the report (see page 65)


Principals often talk about careers and the future with parents and students but few really understand what is required to prepare their students for the 21st Century. Often they are hamstrung from funding or lack of support from their employers. It would be great to have a subject in Career Development in Masters of Educational Leadership so that Principals have an understanding of the importance of leading their organisations in the current and future world of work.


The discussion needs to continue. Parents could start asking questions when deciding what schools they send their children to. Not only about the Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR) or other results advertised by the schools, but what is being done to prepare students for the future? What programs are in place? How many Careers Practitioners are there in the school? Is that enough for this many students? What training has the principal had in Career Development? Is the Careers Advisor in the school qualified?


You can read the full report here: https://www.fya.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/FYA_TheNewWorkSmarts_July2017.pdf

Or try the FYA job cluster quiz here:

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