SA YOUTH NEED SOFT SKILLS FOR NEW WORLD OF WORK – AND LIFE
South African schools need to change their focus from purely academic skills to more so-called ‘soft skills’ if the next generation is to survive and thrive in the new world of work, says the CEO of private school network SPARK Schools.
The World Economic Forum predicts that the children of today can expect to change jobs at least seven times during their working lives. Furthermore, a third of the skills needed to thrive in a job will be different in the next five years – and the biggest requirement from employers going forward will be soft skills, says SPARK Schools CEO Stacey Brewer.
“Companies will want soft skills – so we must focus on teaching them. We’re often so focused on teaching our children technical skills, that we forget to teach the ‘soft skills’ – the attitudes, behaviours, qualities and mindsets that will help them work well with other people, and cope with the demands of their jobs and other aspects of their lives,” says Brewer.
Ironically, it is technology itself that is driving the need for greater soft skills in the workplace. Automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are taking over many of the jobs that needed traditional ‘hard skills’, which is increasingly making soft skills the key differentiator. A study by Deloitte Access Economics predicts that two-thirds of all jobs in Australia will rely on soft skills by 2030 – a trend that is sure to be mirrored globally.
Brewer says the major skills we should be teaching our youth include communication, self-control, teamwork and problem-solving, which enable young people to become adaptable, lifelong learners.
SPARK Schools uses a social-emotional learning curriculum to teach its foundation phase scholars to manage their emotions and strengthen their relationships through a programme called TOOLBOX, by Dovetail Learning. The 12 tools in the TOOLBOX become valuable personal skills and strategies for self-awareness, self-management, and relationship-building, which, in turn, foster responsible decision-making. Because the techniques are simple and the language is shared, children adopt the tools and master them quickly.
“The mastery of soft skills correlates with improved outcomes in school, work and life. We find that learners use these tools to manage their time, resolve conflict, build friendships, and communicate effectively in class, on the playground, and even at home,” says Brewer. “When families implement the TOOLBOX at home, we see that scholars become better friends, family members, and community members.”
Note to the editor:
SPARK Schools is a network of private schools offering affordable, globally competitive education. Concerned by the state of South African education and committed to finding a solution, Stacey Brewer and Ryan Harrison co-founded SPARK Schools in 2012. They believed that an innovative approach could disrupt the crisis in South African education and dedicated themselves to creating a new model that would provide access to high-quality education for all.
SPARK Ferndale, the first school in the SPARK Schools network, opened in 2013 in Johannesburg. Since then, the network has expanded to serve more than 10,000 SPARK scholars at 21 schools in Gauteng and the Western Cape.
SPARK Schools’ purpose is to build a nation through high quality, affordable education. They are society shapers, committed to nurturing scholars who are responsible, persistent, and kind and who positively contribute to South Africa’s future.
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