Today’s high school students face a winding road to adulthood success. The pandemic has disrupted their learning and post-secondary education plans. They prepare for jobs that don’t yet exist and navigate a complex job market that often rewards who you know more than what you know. A new survey by the non-profit organization YouthTruth has found that high school students feel largely unprepared to enter the job market.
Many are ambivalent about their plans for the future and uncertain about major decisions like going to college or starting a career. As one student said, “I feel like I haven’t had time to figure out who or what I want to become…I’m not at all prepared for what’s next in life.
These frustrations should cause education leaders to rethink how we prepare students for future success. Education is not just about teaching students knowledge for college and jobs, but providing skills to help the next generation navigate a complex and rapidly changing world.
In an increasingly digital and globalized society, the skills that matter for life and career success are the social and emotional skills that enable people to collaborate, solve problems and adapt to change. Preparing students for the future of work requires social and emotional learning.
This change is long in coming. Workforce development programs have been caught off guard by the 21st century. The rapid pace of technological development and innovation has revolutionized industries. A 2018 study, conducted by market research firm Vanson Bourne for Dell Technologies, found that 85% of the jobs that will exist in 2030 do not yet exist, making it all the more difficult to plan and prepare. of a career. At the same time, the young people who will enter the labor market in the coming years are more entrepreneurial than previous generations and thirst for an education that engages them in solving real problems.
Today, the seismic changes caused by the pandemic have made it more difficult to prepare the workforce. The shift to hybrid working has changed the skills needed to succeed and reduced opportunities to build relationships with co-workers and learn from mentors.
So how can students better prepare for the future?
We don’t know what scientific developments or technological advances will demand of new graduates in the coming decades. But we do know that social and emotional skills – effective communication and collaboration, the ability to persevere towards goals while adapting to change, and the ability to work together in diverse groups – will help young people navigate a changing world. rapid evolution.
Future preparation for work depends on social and emotional learning.
Companies already know this. When asked by my organization what skills they look for in job candidates that they often struggle to find, employers did not prioritize technical know-how or industry expertise . Instead, they listed skills such as communication, autonomy, ability to work in a team, problem solving and integrity. In fact, LinkedIn’s 2019 Global Talent Trends, a survey of more than 5,000 talent professionals worldwide, found that 91% of employers believe that social and emotional skills (which the study calls soft skills”) are very important for the future of work.
Schools can prepare students in a variety of ways. Vocational and technical training courses, service learning, job shadowing, mock interviews, and mentoring all provide opportunities for students to practice thinking, relationship building, teamwork and responsible decision-making. My organization, CASEL, has begun working with eight states to strategically integrate social and emotional learning into career and workforce development. We help students develop future skills they will need to be successful throughout their lives.
The next generation will enter careers reshaped by the pandemic, technological changes and their own entrepreneurial spirit. They look to schools to help them overcome uncertainties and foster their sense of duty. Our education system must prioritize social and emotional learning, for their careers but also for their future as a whole.
Aaliyah A. Samuel is President and CEO of CASEL, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning.
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