The Future of Work Part 3

The future world of work & careers: dynamics, skills & partnerships

Dr John Doyle February 14th, 2022 · 8 minute read

External Engagement & Partnerships

Key points

Traditional disciplinary knowledge and skills will remain essential into the future, but additional ‘21st century’ skills, behaviours and dispositions will also be so. It is not ‘either or’. Indeed, the acquisition of capabilities such as collaboration and problem solving is done most effectively ‘in the context of mastering specific disciplinary, trade or professional expertise’.

The Centre for International Research on Education Systems has identified nine key competencies that ‘primarily link to academic achievement and are seen as important for students to learn for promoting
success in their future lives’. They are: critical thinking; creativity; metacognition; problem solving; collaboration and cooperation; motivation; selfefficacy and a sense of agency; conscientiousness;
and grit, perseverance and tenacity.

A study by the World Economic Forum identifies sixteen ‘21st century’ skills and capabilities, which it allocates to three broad categories. These are foundational literacies (literacy; numeracy; ICT
literacy; financial literacy; and cultural and civic literacy); competencies (critical thinking and problem solving; creativity; communication; and collaboration); and character qualities (curiosity;
initiative; persistence and grit; adaptability; leadership; and social and cultural awareness).

A wide range of ‘21st century’ skills and competencies are identified by the FYA, organised into organisational skills; digital literacy skills; creative problem solving skills; interaction skills; and other skills (including foreign language skills, initiative and detail-mindedness).

A key challenge for educators will be to ensure that young people ‘not only acquire foundational and technical skills, but that they are able to deploy those skills in an increasingly enterprising way—as active problem solvers and communicators of ideas, equipped with a more entrepreneurial mindset and appetite for ongoing learning.’

A series of interviews by the NSW Association of Independent Schools in 2018 with fifteen senior business and other organisation leaders identified commonality in the skills and characteristics sought from young people for graduate roles. They included the ability to work collaboratively in ‘multidisciplinary, high-functioning teams’; ‘resilience, understanding and interpersonal skills’;
the ability to deal with failure; an entrepreneurial mindset; strong disciplinary knowledge and domain expertise; ‘real-world learning experience’; and a global perspective.

Interviews conducted in preparation of this report, with executives in the banking, legal and engineering/design sectors, also identified many ‘21st century’ skills and capabilities that were broadly consistent with those cited above.

A recent survey of over 3,000 business leaders in North America and Western Europe by McKinsey identifies fifteen skills and capabilities where demand is expected to increase. They include communication and negotiation skills; technology design skills; advanced IT skills; project management; creativity; critical thinking and decision making; advanced literacy and writing skills; interpersonal and empathy; and adaptability
and continuous learning.

There is agreement that students should be technologically ‘literate’ by the time they leave school, but some uncertainty about what this means. Professional services firm Deloitte, in partnership with Geelong Grammar School, asserts that for students to be ‘digitally competent’ they must be at least familiar with coding and ‘[e]merging technologies such as functional programming and … machine learning’. Linking digital skills with problem solving skills, they advocate ensuring that students have ‘the practical skills to … solve problems in context, bringing the digital technology to the problem (where appropriate) rather than the
problem to digital technology.’

It is estimated that in coming years, over 90 percent of Australia’s workforce will require sufficient skills to use technology to communicate, find information and transact; and nearly 50 percent will need the
ability to configure and use digital systems. However, having the expertise to build digital technology will remain a relatively niche specialisation.

Research Findings

This section addresses the issue of school external engagement and partnerships as it relates to the world of work and careers. Drawing on secondary sources and the BGS2032 interviews, it provides a high level
overview of current research on school engagement and partnership models, their benefits and challenges; and some examples of specific partnerships. As noted in the ‘Pressure Test’ report, the engagement and partnership issue goes beyond ‘work and career’: it encompasses post-secondary education, in particular engagement with universities (and other educational institutions) about entry requirements and courses; approaches to pedagogy and teaching; and BGS’s strategic positioning. These broader issues will be dealt with separately as part of the BGS2032 project.

This section represents just a preliminary assessment of the engagement and partnerships issue. It provides a sufficient fact-base for informed discussion, however there is further investigatory work to do.

Recommended next steps include: reviewing the additional research literature identified while preparing this report; conducting further desktop research into current partnership and engagement activities by other schools; and undertaking targeted discussions with external parties (including other schools).

What does the research literature say?

In an environment of ongoing change and focus on ‘21st century’ skills, there is consensus that schools need to collaborate and partner with external parties in industry, government and/or the not-for-profit sectors
to provide opportunities and experiences to students, and also teachers. The Gonski Report identifies a range of benefits from ‘school-community engagement’— defined broadly to encompass school-industry
collaboration; mentoring and volunteering programs; and extra-curricular activities—including that it:
• supports an ‘adaptive education’ model’ by enabling students to:

o learn ‘what is happening outside the school gates’;
o apply knowledge and skills gained at school ‘outside of the classroom’; and
o prepare for ‘a rapidly changing workforce by exposing them to work-related knowledge and skills that the curriculum does not cover’; and provides teachers with a wider array of learning experiences to engage individual students and meet individual learning needs.

Of particular relevance for this report, researchers from the University of Sydney argue that businesses, government agencies and not-for-profits have a ‘critical role to play in improving individuals’ employability’.
They call for collaborations with schools to go beyond traditional work experience programs, stating that if:

engagement is to be successful, it needs to be planned around providing quality learning experiences for students. This might, for example, expose students to the application of new technology in selected industries (such as manufacturing or health care) for product design and production, how it is influencing service delivery models (for example, in tourism and creative industries) and understanding business processes and innovation processes. Greater employer engagement with schools will provide students with a better understanding of how their knowledge can be applied to solving practical real-world problems, expand their understanding of the career options open to them, and generally facilitate the school to work transition.

In 2018, the Mitchell Institute released Connecting the worlds of learning and work: Prioritising school-industry partnerships in Australia’s education system, based on its analysis of available Australian and international literature on school-industry partnerships. The discussion below draws substantially from this study. It argues that school-facilitated connections to the world of work constitute an important way to support student development of work-related skills and capabilities, and cites international evidence linking such connections with improved student outcomes in career decision making and navigation.

The Mitchell Institute also notes international evidence that school-industry connections can enhance motivation and engagement at school, especially for disengaged students. It cites a study of 1,900 Year 9
students in the US that observed materially improved maths performance after the students were provided with career-related tasks, such as reflecting on the personal relevance of maths to their future careers.
Analysis of OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) data from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland and Ireland, moreover, also shows a statistically significant relationship between
direct exposure to the working world and higher student maths scores.

Though school-industry partnerships have traditionally been directed towards senior school years, through work experience and career-related awareness activities, the literature suggests that they also benefit ‘senior’ primary school students by improving academic engagement and broadening career awareness and aspirations. Noting that ‘patterns of engagement and participation are set as young as 10’, the Mitchell Institute argues that (primary) school-industry partnerships are especially useful in providing opportunities for inquiry-based learning, such as ‘project-based learning, collaborative learning, hands on learning and design-thinking approaches’, which have particular relevance to STEM learning.

Approaches to school-industry partnerships

The Mitchell Institute identifies three broad school industry partnership models:
• Direct partnerships between an individual school and employer:

o Activities include one-off events, incursions or excursions, career-taster days, workplace visits and job shadowing; and can occur during school hours as part of the curriculum or as
additional activities in after-school or holiday programs.
o This model of partnership provides for activities tailored to the needs of local students. However, it usually requires a higher level of school resourcing and teacher involvement to coordinate and implement.

• Large scale partnerships involving multiple schools, industry partners and using intermediaries:

o This model tends to involve ‘multiple component activities and runs over multiple years’. It is generally used as part of a broader strategic approach by government to ‘meet workforce pipeline skills needs’ and typically includes activities such as regional industry tours, careers talks and expos, industry-based competitions and events, mentoring programs, and teacher professional development workshops.
o The complexity of such partnerships usually involve intermediaries such as ‘education system personnel’; industry associations, peak bodies and/or professional associations; research organisations; universities; and/or not-for-profits.

• Industry-supported teacher professional learning:

o This model involves teachers gaining industry exposure via industry-based work placements relevant to their discipline; working with industry professionals to design learning activities; participating in industry-supported workshops, online courses (such as Google and the University of Adelaide’s free online course on Digital Technologies for Australian Teachers) and conferences; and gaining formal
qualifications.
o Of particular relevance to STEM disciplines, such partnerships can develop teacher skills ‘to deliver the curriculum in more enriching and innovative ways [and equip] teachers with the latest research and industry relevant knowledge’. This is also consistent with feedback received from the AINSW’s discussions with business leaders, in which there was support for ‘teachers to have more exposure to industry through teacher internships and other programs.’

Outcomes from school-industry partnerships

The key educational benefits from school-industry partnerships, based on studies undertaken in Australia and abroad over the last decade, are dot-pointed below. For more detailed information linking these outcomes with particular partnership models and industry involvement, see Appendix D.

Educational benefits from school-industry partnerships

• Developing student ‘future of work’ capabilities (as discussed in Part 2) applicable to emerging/growth occupations;
• Improving student school-to-work transition and development of work-readiness skills;
• Broadening student awareness of and aspirations for new and emerging careers;
• Improving student engagement at school;
• Providing greater access to state-of-the-art technology (etc) to support teaching and learning; and
• Building capability of school leaders and teachers.

Key success factors and barriers to successful school industry partnerships

The following school-industry partnership key success factors were identified during policy roundtable in 2018 comprising experts and leaders from the education sector, government, business and the not-for-profit
sector:
• Senior-level buy-in from both school and industry partners;
• Alignment of the partnership with school strategic plans;
• Support for school staff to develop partnerships;
• Establishment of clear purpose and expectations at the outset, including the impact on learning; and
• The use of intermediaries (including local networks, government agencies and not-for-profits), particularly in brokering large scale partnerships, sharing knowledge with policy makers, and connecting with schools and industry to build awareness and understanding of how partners can engage. (The potential value of engaging with such intermediaries is also cited elsewhere.)

The following barriers were identified:
• A misalignment between schools being principally assessed on the basis of delivering curriculum content and by measures such as NAPLAN results, and the wider approaches to learning available through
partnerships;
• The major time investment required by schools and industry partners to develop connections; design programs; establish mutually beneficial agreements; manage relationships; and coordinate programs;
• A lack of information and awareness by schools and industry about where to find partners and how to build connections;
• The challenge of aligning complex real-world problems with a school curriculum structured principally to deliver content in single subject areas. Compounding this are the time constraints on teachers already delivering a ‘crowded curriculum’ and the level of teacher skill required to ‘scaffold student learning and embed it in the curriculum’.

A University of Sydney study develops this point further, identifying ‘quality control’ as a key challenge for school-industry partnerships and allocating teachers the ‘vital role as custodians of educational
quality’. It states that schools should only engage with ‘employers and organisations … capable of delivering high-quality learning experiences’, but concedes the practical difficulty of locating and engaging with such
employers. The researchers suggest that government may have some facilitative role, however ‘[j]ust how this is done and what level of public funds is provided to help make it happen requires extensive and careful
reflection and debate.’
• Insufficient teacher time, confidence and/or understanding to engage with industry partners;

Administrative and governance requirements (including child safety requirements for industry professionals working with children; OH&S requirements for students visiting work sites etc); and
• The financial costs associated with the above barriers, including the use of intermediaries, operational costs such as transporting students to work sites, and challenges related to backfilling teachers.86

What do employers say?

Interview with Carmel Speer, Head of Organisational Capability, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s current engagement with secondary schools includes careers days and similar events, especially in Bendigo as part of its community involvement activities. Speer sees potential value, inprinciple, in partnering with schools, however notes the criticality of mutual benefit and strategic alignment for both parties. Developing a mutually beneficial project-based learning program would be particularly
challenging. One option might be a ‘youth steering committee’ model, in which students could provide insights and ideas from young people’s perspective to real world issues. An overarching challenge in fostering
school (and university) partnerships is the high time investment required.

Speer acknowledges the challenge of teaching ‘21st century’ skills and capabilities in circumstances where the Australian Curriculum is ‘pretty locked down’. She considers that exposing teachers to industry is ‘very
important’ for their professional development, but again notes challenges in implementation. An option might a teacher secondment program.

Interview with Liam Hayes, Chief People Officer, Aurecon

Aurecon’s current engagement with secondary schools involves an annual ‘bridge building’ competition to provide insights into engineering careers; and participating in career events. It is ‘definitely open’ to
hosting students for short periods of work experience.

Aurecon has previously experimented with project-based projects with university students and found it highly time intensive and ultimately unsustainable. As such, there is no current appetite for initiating a program of this nature with schools. Hayes indicated, however, that facilitating a school holiday ‘boot camp’ program could be plausible, contingent on funding and resource availability. Aurecon is currently piloting an internship program for 2nd year university students as a pipeline for graduate recruitment.

Interview with Peter Lucarelli, Partner, and Natalie Mascarenhas, Talent Management Consultant, Baker McKenzie.

Baker McKenzie does not have formal programs with schools, though does host secondary school students for week-long work experience on an ad hoc basis. The firm’s formal engagement with educational institutions targets university law schools (as discussed in Part 2) and this model is expected to continue.

Mascarenhas perceives ‘huge benefit’ in young people developing core foundational legal knowledge and maturity after 1-2 years at university before moving to a law firm environment. It is important that school-level legal studies align with tertiary-level subjects. She sees merit in teachers gaining professional development with law firms, however the fact that most law firm work is client-specific poses a barrier.89
In-principle industry backing From the discussion above, we can see that school industry partnerships have the potential to derive substantial benefits, though the implementation challenges are real. It is unsurprising therefore that the Gonski Report finds that school-community engagement programs are ‘not common practice and implementation can be ad hoc.’90 However, the literature (consistent with
feedback from the interviews discussed above) indicates that this is fertile ground to explore in the BGS2032 project.

There appears to be at least an in-principle openness from industry for closer engagement with schools. The WEF’s 2015 Future of Jobs Survey of 350 senior HR and strategy executives, for example, found that 25 percent were exploring and/or engaging in collaborations with educational institutions (albeit likely higher education). The WEF itself calls for business to work with the education sector and government ‘to imagine
what a true 21st century curriculum might look like.’

The Business Council of Australia has indicated at least implicit support for some form of partnerships with the education system, stating that ‘[d]eveloping work readiness is a joint responsibility between the
individual applying for work, their family, the education system, business and government.’ The Committee for Economic Development of Australia similarly asserts that ‘[e]mployers must help to ensure the education provided is relevant to the workplace and constantly evolving industries.’ The FYA advocates ‘work-integrated models of learning to ensure opportunities to gain critical relevant work experience’, identifying ‘relevant paid work experience’ as one of four key factors than can ‘accelerate the transition from full-time education to fulltime work’.

What are some examples of partnerships?

School Partnerships

• The Bergen County Academies at Hackensack, New Jersey, combines academic rigour with the ‘world of practice’ via partnerships with the private and public
sectors.

The school is organised into seven ‘academies’ offering specialised programs in: Business and Finance (ABF); Engineering and Design Technology (AEDT); Science and Technology; Medical Science Technology
(AMST); Technology and Computer Science; Visual and Performing Arts; and Culinary Arts and Hotel Administration. Partnerships and agreements exist between individual academies and external parties.
AEDT students, for example, can receive subject credits with universities; ABF students participate in work placements with financial services firms; and AMST students engage with research laboratories in local
teaching hospitals.

The school incorporates the International Baccalaureate into its study programs for some academies (such as Business and Finance). Students from different academies work together via interdisciplinary and classwide projects in mathematics, humanities and world language courses.
• Ivanhoe Grammar School recently opened a stand-alone ‘university campus’ in partnership with La Trobe University to offer its Year 9 students a ‘hybrid, year-long university experience’. The program is designed to ‘develop skills in problem solving, critical thinking, time management, decision making and other life skills [and] is achieved through a mixture of core curriculum, inquiry-based units, international trips, co-curricular activities and service learning.’ Students have access to some La Trobe facilities and academics, who ‘contribute to students’ studies through a joint educational program.’
• Geelong Grammar School has partnered with Deloitte Consulting’s ‘Centre for the Edge’ to explore the ‘competences and attitudes necessary for negotiating the digital world.’ Geelong Grammar and Deloitte facilitated a series of technology-focused workshops in 2017 and released a paper, To Code or not to code, is that the question?, discussed earlier in this report. Earlier this years, Geelong and Deloitte hosted workshops on ‘Mapping digital competence’ (in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart and Geelong) with the objective of producing a ‘mud map to digital competence in the future [to] inform our understanding of both work and education’.

Other partnerships

• PricewaterhouseCoopers works with large Australian employers in the private and public sectors to establish ‘integrated work-based training programs that create vocational pathways into professional,
business, IT and financial services’ roles.’ The program target students who wish to move straight from school to work and offers ‘work experience, mentoring and accredited training delivered by registered training providers.’ In pursuit of ‘digitally fit’ people, PwC now offers ‘higher apprenticeships’ for people without tertiary qualifications (targeting in particular students from lower socio-economic backgrounds); and trainee
positions for school graduates who want to work and study part-time. PwC has also entered a partnership with the Australian Esports League to gain access to ‘a booming pool of tech-savvy gamers’.
• Swinburne University has entered a partnership with Microsoft to pilot an employability skills program focused on developing high-demand technical roles in fields such as cybersecurity, AI, data science and computer science, where there are significant global skills shortages. According to Swinburne’s Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic), Professor Duncan Bentley, Swinburne gains access to Microsoft’s ‘ideas, their thinking and knowledge’ and the parties together will ‘create new knowledge about how employability should develop.’ Swinburne will contribute to developing Microsoft’s online employability program, which will provide students with information about potential career paths matching their interests and aptitudes.

Swinburne is also working with the Australian Industry Group and Siemens to pilot a new technology ‘higher apprenticeship’ model that, on completion, will result in a Diploma or Associate Degree in Applied Technology. The program places post Year 12 school leavers in positions in ‘leading technology companies’ and aims to ‘combine university and vocational learning models and provide a pathway to a bachelor’s degree.’

Among Swinburne’s other partnerships is Seek.com. This enables jobs-related data mining to identify the skills emerging and in demand for job categories; to then integrate into teaching and research.
• Aurecon has ongoing learning and ‘micro-credential’ partnerships with RMIT and the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). The firm will be launching with RMIT in late 2019. It also operates an in-house
learning platform focused on AI and machine learning that is likely to move to a specialist external provider given the rapid pace of change in this area.
• South Metropolitan TAFE has partnered with Rio Tinto and the Western Australian government to introduce Australia’s first course in automation.

• RMIT has worked with Amazon to develop short courses in virtual and augmented reality. University work-ready programs

• All Bachelor degrees at Macquarie University include as least one PACE (Professional and Community Engagement) unit. The PACE program involves students undertaking a practical workplace activity with one of over 3,000 partner organisations in Australia and offshore.
• La Trobe University operates a formal Career Ready program and offers various work-integrated learning subjects at senior undergraduate level, including Professional Competence—Transition to the Workplace, Future Ready

Resources

The Future of Work Part 2

The future world of work & careers: dynamics, skills & partnerships

Dr John Doyle February 14th, 2022 · 8 minute read

The Future of Work: Appendix A

The future world of work & careers: dynamics, skills & partnerships

Dr John Doyle February 14th, 2022 · 8 minute read

The Future of Work: Appendix B

The future world of work & careers: dynamics, skills & partnerships

Dr John Doyle February 14th, 2022 · 8 minute read

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