When you’re a student it can be hard to see beyond the end of the school year, let alone consider how subject and qualification choices will affect your employability and future opportunities once you’ve left school.
We do, however, expect students - often as young as 12 - to make choices about the subjects they study at GCSE. Then at 16 they must make tough decisions about employment, training or education routes, and again at 18.
Of course they will be guided by teachers, parents, careers professionals and school leaders. Where provision is of a high quality it can help students make informed decisions and boost social mobility. For example, based on an international study, the Gatsby Foundation has released a set of eight career benchmarks which define what world-class career guidance should include.
The second of these eight benchmarks is that ‘every pupil, and their parents, should have access to good quality information about future study options and labour market opportunities.’
It’s crucial that teachers and careers advisors are equipped with up-to-date information about the future of work - including labour market needs and skills shortages - which can be shared with students. Nesta is currently working with a range of partners to pilot the ‘Open Jobs’ platform, which will bring together real time labour market data to help people make better informed decisions and plan their career journeys. Our interactive skills taxonomy, based on data from 41 million job adverts, also provides an up-to-date overview of the skills required for different occupations. There is significant potential to use this to help young people make decisions about the qualifications and pathways they choose.
As an initial contribution to this important work, we have collaborated with a charity called Speakers for Schools to produce an informative resource for teachers that summarises key findings from Nesta’s 'The Future of Skills: Employment in 2030’ report. The toolkit equips teachers with the latest information about the changing world of work and aims to stimulate classroom discussion about skills that will be in demand in the future.
Building on this, in late 2018 Nesta will partner with Young Citizens, a citizenship charity, to develop a two-hour lesson plan about the future of work which teachers and volunteers can deliver to a secondary school student audience.
Although there are uncertainties about what the future of work will look like, new research is providing helpful insights into the key trends and opportunities. It’s crucial that this information is available and accessible to parents, teachers and education professionals if we are to best prepare our young people for the future. At Nesta we continue to explore opportunities to develop effective approaches to do this.