We need a broader range of skills
To help young people to prepare for uncertainty around future employment, the education system must teach a much wider range of skills, including social and emotional skills and creativity.
Nesta’s collaboration with Pearson and Oxford Martin School of Business showed that in the future there will be high demand for interpersonal skills, such as collaboration and coordination; higher-order cognitive skills, including fluency of ideas and originality; and systems skills, for example judgement and decision making. At the moment, learners are not being consistently supported to develop those skills.
Recent OECD research shows that the UK has the highest level of prevalence of memorisation in classrooms, which has also been shown to reduce a child’s ability to solve problems and think critically. Countries like Japan and China that used to depend on rote learning have shifted to a much greater emphasis on understanding and critical thinking.
At Nesta, we have focused on ways to embed these skills in the school system, developing a toolkit to equip teachers, parents and carers with the latest information about the changing world of work and the skills that will be in demand in the future. Through the Future Ready Fund we’ve also supported a number of high-potential interventions that promote wider skills in young people aged 11-18, especially social and emotional skills and resilience.
To ensure that young people have the chance to learn and develop skills relevant for the future, we are calling for:
- The Department for Education to create a digital-complementary skills framework that can be used by industry and training providers to ensure skills such as creativity, complex problem solving and collaboration are taught across the school curriculum and adult-learning systems.
- Schools to embed evidence-based solutions for teaching these same skills, drawing on resources such as Nesta’s toolkit.
- Employers to invest at scale in the development of young people’s creativity and problem solving skills outside the classroom, for example, through initiatives that Nesta has pioneered: competitions like Cracking the Code, a competition for children to design maths-based escape rooms, and the Longitude Explorer Prize, which challenges 11-16 year olds to solve problems using satellite data, Internet of Things technologies and AI.