Pioneering for the Future of Work

by Gavin Clark

What do our students need for the future of work? What is important in education to prepare students for the demands of the workforce? These are the questions that we have to ask ourselves as leaders of learning institutions. We are tasked with being the innovative pioneers within the educational realm inculcating the skills, dispositions, knowledge, and approaches to learning that will prepare our students for success in the future. But how do we do this? 

Innovate and Imagine

As leaders, it is critical for us to challenge the status quo and lead our students, staff, stakeholders, and community toward a paradigm of education that differs from the one we experienced as students ourselves. The present educational landscape, never mind the future, is vastly different than we have experienced previously and we must be aware of this to successfully map a new pathway that best prepares our students for the demands of this world and the future of work that they will experience. 

It is evident that technological advancements have contributed to changes in education and undoubtedly, they will continue to play a role in the changing face of the sector into the future. The growing use of technology, including AI in education, is a natural focal point for attention and one that we must embrace as we undertake this exciting innovative stage of educational reform. Using technology to enhance students’ analytical, evaluative, and creativity skills should naturally lead to them enhancing their employability in the future and help them to be the champions of continual change which will help them to be the leaders for tomorrow. This is a strategic focus for all schools. 

Pioneering Personalised Pathways

It is clear that there is a growth in demand for individualised and personalised education and today’s classroom is quite different from the traditional classroom that had all students learning the same content at the same time via a didactic approach which was prevalent in previous incarnations of teaching and learning. Nowadays, classrooms must promote more collaborative, multimodal, and dynamic approaches to pedagogical delivery. The physical space alongside the curriculum and assessment practices used within the classroom are crucial in providing an environment where students are challenged, where they actively participate in lessons, and where real purpose drives the education, instruction, research, and investigations of the students. The teacher as the facilitator and designer of this has to know their students intimately. They need to tailor all aspects of their craft to meet the needs of their students, including differentiation of learning experiences and assessment strategies and to use the curriculum as a foundation for learning, not the focus of all learning. They need to ensure that students are continuously challenged, and provided with support, experimentation and extension opportunities which will enable them to find out their individual passions, talents and interests and give them the confidence to fulfil their individual potential. Our focus should be on increasing individual action and generating learning experiences which develop thinkers, innovators and problem solvers. This is the expectation and requirement of a future-focused school and work environment.

Modifications and adjustments for individuals in a school environment can be customised in a variety of ways including the provision of learning support, pastoral care and, of course, subject choice. Personalisation is crucial to ensuring we maximise each student’s potential and open the door for our students to take advantage of the incredible learning opportunities that are available to them both inside and outside of school. This will help to grow them academically and personally. We should enhance the opportunities we provide our students to personalise their learning through the use of technology and by leveraging partnerships with external providers and organisations. Never has there been a greater array of career paths, university courses and other pathways for students to explore. It is the job of school leaders to foster additional and mutually beneficial partnerships for our students whilst also asking students to actively seek their own alliances that can be personally advantageous. 

When our students enter the workforce, we want them to be prepared to thrive in their new surroundings. We want them to have the confidence and competence to excel in their new roles, to be humble and vulnerable enough to seek support when necessary whilst continually exploring opportunities for growth and development. This is what the workforce is looking for from their new employees and this is what we must create as the learning culture within our schools. 

Our curriculum delivery must be designed around the skills they require to be valuable members of society and the workforce in the future. They need to be excellent communicators and listeners, who contribute to discussions and meetings, and who are as open to receiving information and opinions, ideas and viewpoints as they are at expressing their own. These skills must be concentrated on at all times whilst at school and students have to receive regular and tailored feedback from their teachers on their execution of these nuanced skills. By doing so we will create better learners, leaders and people who will thrive in an ever-changing world and who will be ready for the future of work.

Gavin Clark is the Principal of Westbourne College, Singapore

To connect with him on LinkedIn, click Here

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