Generation Z will have 15 different careers…so let’s focus on employability skills
Our current students, Generation Z, are predicted to have 15 different jobs/careers throughout their lifetime.
Why is this so? Gone are the days where you completed school, attended university then worked in your qualified industry for the remainder of your life. Instead, our students will be required to develop a ‘portfolio of careers’ according to Mr Bernard Salt, social commentator and former Partner at KPMG. Mr Salt spoke of the importance of future-proofing your career through agility, flexibility and sociability, to be able to adapt to the ever-changing workforce.
To assist with this portfolio development, there is an increasing focus on employability skills, rather than prescriptive degrees. During a Careers Practitioners professional development workshop earlier this year, Julie Duncan, Talent Acquisition Director at PwC, commented that PwC recruits on potential, targeting applicants that demonstrate flexibility, adaptability and a change mindset, more so than focusing on what particular qualifications the students leave university with.
Flexibility, adaptability and a change, or growth mindset, are three examples of skills that employers desire in their applicants. These skills also ensure individuals are capable of switching careers in line with the fluidity of the market and allow them to create their career portfolio.
Also in high demand from employers is the ability to communicate across a myriad of platforms and audiences, work within teams, problem-solve, show creativity, initiative and self-management, adept with technology as well as planning, organisation and entrepreneurship skills.
Many tertiary institutions are now taking more than just an ATAR into account when offering places to students. La Trobe University has their ASPIRE Early Admissions Program. This Program allows students to apply for courses at La Trobe University in September before Year 12 examinations. As part of the application process students write a statement articulating their capabilities within the abovementioned skill sets.
ACU also has an Early Achievers Program and as part of the application, students provide examples of their community involvement. Many universities are also requiring schools to provide references for students who are applying for scholarships, including Bond University for their Collegiate Scholarship as well as universities and colleges overseas. Within these references, teachers are asked to focus on the employability skills of the applicant.
Universities have taken note of the shift in focus from degrees and courses, to employability skills. Many universities have recently developed programs that aim to develop these skills in their students, ensuring their students graduate with both a degree and employability skills that are desired by employers.
Programs such as the Career Ready Advantage at La Trobe University and Student Futures at Monash University, aim to develop employability skills in their students through a range of programs and activities, whilst also keeping a record of these activities via an online platform. This is yet another example of the importance of our students attending university open days – to learn more broadly about all the opportunities offered at tertiary institutions that would not feature on a degree course outline.
So, how can our students develop these employability skills? Many are already focused on significantly throughout the St Catherine’s School Leadership Diploma, undertaken by students in Years 9 and 10. Students are also encouraged to participate in regular co-curricular and community service activities. Volunteering with community organisations on an ongoing basis helps to develop many of these skills, as does undertaking work experience during school holidays and subject teachers focus on developing employability skills throughout the School curriculum.
Universities and employers, are looking for well-rounded students, not just those with strong results. Universities may continue to place less emphasis on only a student’s ATAR, so we must ensure our students are ready for this shift.