What should young people be learning?
By one popular estimate, 65% of children entering primary education today will end up in careers that don’t yet exist. By another, up to 800m jobs globally could be displaced by automation by 2030. How can we prepare our children — and indeed ourselves — to thrive in an age of such unprecedented transformation and uncertainty?
Mindsets and transferable skills — such as initiative and self-reliance, creativity and innovation, and critical thinking and problem-solving — are a common answer to that question and it’s not hard to see why.
In a future defined by careers that don’t even exist yet — likely using technologies that haven’t been invented to help solve challenges we don’t yet know we have — the greatest gifts we can bequeath our children are the ability to adapt to change, the desire to constantly learn new things and the capacity to innovate better answers to complex problems. As well as better preparing young people for the future of work, there’s a growing body of evidence that success in school depends as much, if not more, on development of “noncognitive” skills as cognitive ones.
This is the beauty of mindsets and transferable skills. Their development can simultaneously meet shorter and longer-term objectives, both improving educational attainment and helping young people take significant strides to becoming independent, resilient and enterprising citizens.
This is especially true when they’re combined with skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), which are foundational to critical reasoning and problem-solving, and which will be essential for around three-quarters of the fastest growing future occupations. Research shows that students who study STEM are more creative, flexible and able to take advantage of the changes that are predicted in the workforce and workplaces of the future.
Time for business to step up
Organizations — EY included — are recognizing the increasing need for such “21st century skills.” This is why we’re working with some of the world’s leading youth-focused NGOs to foster the development of mindsets and transferable skills among young people of all ages.
For example, all around the world, EY professionals support Junior Achievement (JA Worldwide) programs to prepare young people for employment and entrepreneurship. This includes mentoring students on the JA Company Program, which seeks to help students develop entrepreneurial mindsets and skills through practical experience of creating and managing their own business.
In South Africa, EY NextGen is helping develop the continent’s next generation of female leaders. Through this initiative, EY people mentor underserved girls from Grades 10 through to university, teaching them resilience and business skills, and creating a network of high-achieving young women who support each other on the pathway to further education and employment.