Tuesday, 12 Aug 2008

MEDIA RELEASE
For immediate release Tuesday 12 August 2008
Social and civic skills key for future workforce

Education must teach key personal, social and civic skills if young people are to succeed in the workplace, say education experts Drs Gabrielle Matters and David Curtis.

Narrow education that delivers specific skills for particular occupations will not equip young people for inevitable but unpredictable changes caused by a changing labour market, globalisation and information technology, say the researchers.

Dr Matters, of the Australian Council for Educational Research, and Dr Curtis, of the National Centre for Vocational Education Research, will address the ACER research conference on Tuesday.

Drs Matters and Curtis recognise the importance of basic skills such as literacy and numeracy, but stress that generic skills, such as communication, problem solving and a commitment to learning as a lifelong perspective, have a key role in facilitating personal growth, social interaction, civic engagement and labour market participation.

Education that does not provide young people with a diverse and general set of skills is out of step with the emerging requirements of the labour market.

Generic skills may include communication, teamwork and problem-solving skills that contribute to productive working relationships and outcomes; initiative and enterprise that contribute to innovation; long-term and short-term strategic planning; self-management; learning that contributes to ongoing improvement and expansion in employee and company operations; and understanding of technology that contributes to effective execution of tasks. These skills need to be explicitly defined, taught and assessed.

“Although much policy attention has been paid to the concept of lifelong learning, the generic skills that are required for ongoing learning have been elusive,” say the researchers.

“These skills need to be identified. The education system must develop adaptable generic skills in students, assess achievement of them and report achievement against them.”

The ACER Research Conference 2008, on the theme Touching the Future: Building skills for life and work, takes place in Brisbane from 10 to 12 August.

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