One of my hopes for each student is that they will discover opportunities, now and in the future, where they can use their gifts and strengths to serve and shape our world and so this week it has been terrific to see some of our Grade 10 participating in Futures Week.
Futures Week is all about helping students consider pathways now and in the future.
This was front of mind when I also dropped into Early Learning and joined them for their snack break.
As they munched away, I asked some of our youngest students for their ideas on what they might like to do when they are older.
Emerson told me he wants to be a doctor, Isla a crane driver and Max a teacher.
These students will commence their working lives around 2040 and work through to at least 2090, if not the next century and during this time the pace of technology adoption and automation will no doubt radically alter the nature of being a doctor, crane driver, teacher and many other jobs.
As the world changes with increasing velocity, it is difficult to assess and analyse what is ahead.
All of us need to become increasingly comfortable with this lack of certainty.
We need to become equally comfortable with learning and relearning.
The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report predicted in 2020 that by 2025 50% of all employees will need reskilling due to the adoption of technology.
The report also foreshadowed that by 2025 critical thinking and problem-solving skills will grow in prominence with newly emerging skills identified including self-management such as active learning, resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility.
A McKinsey and Company article, Defining the skills citizens will need in the future world of work (June, 2021), identified four broad skill categories which will help people thrive in the future of work.
For me and perhaps for you, looking over skills lists like this can be a little confronting. While some of you are no doubt skilled at technology design and programming, my programming literacy is almost non-existent. With other skill groups, such as entrepreneurship, I wonder what level of comfort you have in allowing your child to seek out opportunities to grow in this domain.
Personally, I find it hard not to be inspired by stories of some of our alumni such as Sam Chandler and Kate Morris, both founders of their respective ASX listed companies which they built from the ground up.
At the same time, there is still a part of me which would probably be inclined to steer my child towards law or medicine ahead of making the family garage headquarters for a pipe dream or encouraging them to think their technology platform could develop and become a serious competitor to a market leading incumbent.
If you are the same, then I suspect this inclination comes from a place of wanting our children to have a certain and stable employment future.
However, when I reflect on the nature of our society today, I realise that creating this kind of predictability for my children is impossible. I know that with inevitable large shifts ahead across all industries, the best thing I can be doing now is to be challenging them to take up every opportunity to grow to be more creative in their problem solving and both curious and critical in their thinking.
Intentionally or unintentionally, family plays a large role in shaping the way in which young people think about future work pathways.
Interestingly, the job most Early Learning students said they wanted to take on in the future was a job currently being done by a family member.
Part of our approach at Launceston Grammar is to partner with parents in the conversation we are having with students about future pathways. A good part of Mrs Fiona Symons’ (Careers Advisor) week is filled with meetings which involve students and parents. If you have a child in Grade 11 and 12 and have not taken up this opportunity, please do connect with Fiona and ensure that together as a family you benefit from her invaluable experience and expertise.
As a School, we continue to consider how we prepare students to be ready contribute to society and one new initiative in 2022 is the introduction of an Entrepreneurship elective in Grade 9.
This elective is an extension of the core activities we have in place to ensure students are not just being prepared for the jobs of the future, they are also creating them. With Mr Chris Ellison teaching the course, it very much builds on the Entrepreneurship Club Chris has run for the last two years.
Pleasingly, we are also in the final stages of interviewing for the position of Cultivate Coordinator. This new position will have responsibility for ensuring students are inspired by the incredible innovation and diversity across a range of primary industries in Tasmania. With multiple examples of the best of enterprise, innovation and sustainable business on our doorstep we are committed to further expanding how we tap into this with students from Early Learning up.
The white-water rapids we are riding as a society are so fast flowing that at times it is both exhilarating and slightly nerve wracking.
To navigate these rapids successfully, students need to be inspired to be curious in the questions they are asking and critical as they engage with large volumes of information.
Students need to be comfortable letting a multitude of disciplines come together to inform creative ideas and solutions.
Students need the courage to take initiative, create new opportunities and to choose what is right, even when this is personally costly.
Students need the compassion and relational empathy to work with and include others regardless of their differences.
This is our focus with students each day. This is how we ready our students to forge ahead into the future.
Over at Early Learning, one boy confidently answered my question about work by saying he wanted to do “everything”. His friends told him he could not do “everything” but he pushed back, adamant he wanted to do “everything”.
While on one level we all know that “everything” is beyond anyone, this kind of confidence and readiness is what we hope students will take with them as they graduate so that whatever work looks like now or in 2090, students continue to serve and shape our world for good.