PREPARING LEARNERS FOR THE WORKPLACE OF TOMORROW
We live in a fast-paced world where change is a given and new technologies are are emerging almost on a daily basis. Some careers are fast becoming redundant while skills for new occupations are scarce. So, how does a parent or an educator prepare the learners of today for the workplace of the future?
That is a big question without a clear answer, admits Business Head at the Swales Online Academy, Lauren Jacquin.
“One can never predict what jobs may emerge in the future. We can only base our decisions and expectations on the trends of the past. Living in a technological world has changed job creation in general. Furthermore, as a result of Covid, certain industries have realised that their staff are capable of working from home and, in most cases, more work is being done due to lack of distractions,” she says.
But the two most evident things is that constantly evolving technical skills and the ability to adapt to change are crucial, she adds.
Durban based Swales Online Academy is an online curriculum provider/academy that offers Grade 4 to Grade 12 learning opportunities plus additional learning and educational opportunities.
Jacquin explains that the purpose of Swales is to develop learners and young adults that will be equipped and empowered in a life-long journey to explore, think and engage with the world, through online learning and other forms of collaborative learning.
Swales Online Academy differentiates itself from its competitors as the first online
school with a program for lower Grades (4-6) to learn the skills of effective online learning, enabling them to gradually migrate and function independently as online learners from Grade 7 onwards.
In essence, Swales embraces the fact that education is now no longer aimed at securing a simple qualification but rather at preparing students to be learners for the rest of their lives.
Jacquin points out that today’s learners are already far more tech savvy than some of their parents and teachers. This has resulted in students getting more involved in online courses, such as coding and robotics, and not just relying on a National Senior Certificate when they matriculate.
“Having technological experience is a must. Learners who have a thorough understanding of software systems puts them at a massive advantage compared to students who have merely been taught the basics. Through gamification and curiosity in this online world, students are upskilling themselves through exploration. All these skills will set them apart when it comes to choosing and career path and performing well in their jobs,” she says.
Already, according to education experts, the siloed or subject-based approach that is still very evident in our schools today does not fully prepare learners for the multi-faceted world of work. Instead, education needs to equip learners to find the commonalities between different subjects.
Jacquin agrees. “A subject-based approach to education will never really completely fall away as this is a curriculum decision set out by the Department of Education. What is becoming apparent is that there’s a need for a blended approach to teaching. Students need to be taught the skill of exploration. Exploring the content and allowing themselves to make their own connections and conclusions makes them active participants in the learning process.”
She says that, once learners have mastered the skill of exploration, they then start to become more curious about the world around them and this ultimately results in them pushing themselves even further.
“It is evident that more students are enrolling for more subject choices to complete in matric. Apart from this, students in high school are becoming more involved in short courses that interest them. This allows them to make better career choices and, again, sets them apart from the average matriculant as then leave schools with a foundation of skills as well as knowledge,” explains Jacquin.
She adds that lifelong learning is a mind set that we need to teach students from the outset.
The partnership between Swales Online academy and DigiCampus, equips learners to expand the learning process through the availability of additional courses and skills.
But there is still an even more important skill to master to find their way in the workplace of tomorrow – the ability to adapt to change. This has been illustrated over the past two years when not only education but the entire global economy has had to adapt to massive disruption.
“We live in a fast-paced and unpredictable world, so the ability to adapt to change creates less stress and anxiety when things don’t go according to plan. Knowing that this skill is not easy for any human, we implement the pedagogy of Chaos in our lessons. We try to ensure that not all lessons are the same and we are able to do this by using different online platforms,” she explains.
Jacquin notes that students’ responses to the pedagogy of Chaos have been interesting to witness. “We purposefully create a controlled chaotic environment for which learners are not prepared. Students tend to panic when thrown into this environment for the first time. However, through this setting, our teachers can guide learners to cope with the stresses that emerge and prepare them to adapt. We like to ensure that our learners are actively engaged and we do this by keeping them on their toes. In this way, we create anticipation of what is going to come next.”