Are your students equipped with the proper skills for the future? How do you provide them with the skills they will need for their jobs in 2030? The topic of the following speech held by IATEFL 2019 is about job applications and necessary skills in 2030. The presenters, Mike Mayor and Tim Goodier, speak about the skills that students will need for jobs in the future and how English teachers should cultivate these skills.
What are the employees looking for?
In order to understand what skills teachers should teach their students to be competent for their work in the future, first of all we should find out what the employees are looking for and what their requirements are. To find out the importance of English in the workplace, let’s have a look at the current situation. Back in 2015 Pearson carried out some research. According to it, fluency in English was the second attribute of the top 5 attributes that people were looking for in their employees. Actually, employees look for a workforce that is competent in English.
Another research was published by the British Council in 2018 and that was “Into the future of English in Europe in 2025”. It shows that English will still be needed. And people will be looking for very precise, shorter, very targeted courses and with a very specific goal in mind. Some of those very specific goals are linked to employment – that is to their language needs for the workplace.
How to prioritise language skills according to different professions?
The next question that will surely interest teachers, is how to prioritise language skills and what sources can be used to teach specific language for this or that profession. Onet is a freely available database. It lists every job you will ever have heard of. It shows what specific English you will need if you do this job in English.
What will the job market look like in 2030?
To answer this question, Pearson research that has been carried out recently focuses more on the skills that will be needed for the job market in 2030. If you check Future skills Pearson website, you can find the key skills that employers will be looking for. Another interesting feature that this website offers, is that you can type your age and job and it will tell you how likely it is that your job will be growing in 2030. As for the English teachers, we will still carry on teaching past 2030, because that is one of the growth sectors. When we look at 21st-century skills, whatever we find, goes around critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication. And we, as teachers, are in a really strong position to at least allow our students to practice these skills. We do not need to train our students as robots, because we already have robots and computers that can do a lot of things. All we need to do is to educate them to be better humans, to think widely and creatively, to be able to invent and not just do some basic and already known things.
Raising the profile of future skills
The next point the speaker Mike Mayor mentions is the way teachers can credit to the awareness of future skills. Here is one example. If you want your students to differentiate between communication skills, in the group discussion you can ask them to give examples of
- active listening (e.g. asking questions to confirm understanding),
- participation of every member of the group,
- people inviting others to give their opinion,
- polite interruption/disagreement
Next speaker, Tim Goodier, focuses on ‘connectedness’ defining it as transferable soft skills. He mentions that communication and collaboration can be seen in a concrete way, for example in team work, presentation/leadership, peer learning and support, online transactions and discussion. And when we go further and look at the scheme that is beyond the traditional ‘four skills’ model, we will see reception, production, interaction and mediation. It is through the last three ones that the communication and collaboration happens. The learners themselves are expected to do the following learning activities for ‘connectedness’.
- Production – Strategies for initiating communication.
- Interaction – adapting to the communicative demands of messaging, emails, online chat.
- Mediation – bringing ideas and information together in new ways to create a powerful message.
So, as you can see from the presentation, there is a considerable number of sources that can help us as teachers to educate our students with the right skills that are needed for jobs in 2030.
Here you can watch the whole talk.