emPOWERING The Next Generation – Jennifer Oaten

In today’s rapidly changing world, education needs to focus on providing students with the essential skills they need to succeed in life. While traditional academic knowledge is still important, it is not enough for future success. The challenges and changes the contemporary world poses require a new generation of problem-solvers with a specific set of key attributes. In this article, we will discuss why possessing these attributes are critical to succeeding in today’s workforce and how innovative programs, like emPOWER at Santa Maria College, are teaching these critical skills to our students.

Key Attributes: The Key to Success in Today's Workforce

The essential skills required for success in today’s workforce go beyond academic knowledge. They focus on developing life skills such as critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, digital literacy, emotional intelligence, and adaptability. Let us take a closer look at each of these skills and why they are increasingly vital.

  1. Critical Thinking – Critical thinking involves analysing information, evaluating evidence, and using reason to form judgments. The ability to think critically is essential for navigating the vast amounts of information available today and making informed decisions. With so much information at our fingertips, we must be able to evaluate and assess the quality of information presented to us. Critical thinking helps us separate fact from fiction and make rational decisions.
  1. Creativity – Creativity encourages individuals to think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions to complex problems. It is not just about being artistic; it’s about thinking creatively and finding novel ways to solve problems. In the workforce, individuals who can think creatively are more valuable as they can come up with unique solutions to problems that others may not have thought of.
  1. Collaboration – Collaboration fosters teamwork among individuals to work towards a common goal effectively. In today’s workforce, collaboration is becoming increasingly important as many companies are moving towards more team-based projects. Being able to work well with others and communicate effectively is essential for achieving success in collaborative work environments.
  1. Digital Literacy – Digital literacy is becoming increasingly important as technology continues to reshape how we work and live. It involves using technology effectively and ethically, understanding digital safety and cybersecurity principles, and being able to navigate the vast amount of information available online. In the workforce, individuals who are digitally literate have a better understanding of how to use technology to their advantage, which can lead to increased productivity and success.
  1. Emotional Intelligence – Emotional intelligence and empathy are skills that help individuals build better relationships, become more effective communicators, and be more successful in the workforce. By understanding and managing their emotions effectively, individuals can communicate more clearly and build stronger relationships with their colleagues.
  1. Adaptability – Adaptability is the ability to adjust to changing circumstances quickly and remain resilient in the face of unforeseen challenges. In today’s rapidly changing world, being adaptable is essential for success in the workforce. The ability to adapt to new situations and learn new skills quickly is becoming increasingly important as industries evolve and change.

All of these attributes are part of our Connecting Learning to Life Strategy

emPOWER Program at Santa Maria College

At Santa Maria College, we recognise the importance of these key attributes and have developed an innovative program called emPOWER to teach them to our students. Through the emPOWER program, students learn to analyse information, think outside the box, and work effectively with others to solve problems on a local and global scale, preparing them to be leaders in the workforce.

The emPOWER program is a prime example of how education can prioritise teaching these key attributes to prepare students for the rapidly-changing world.

Our EmPOWER programs, that every student across Year 5-10 participate in include:

  • Fearless5 – making our school more environmentally friendly
  • Spark6 using technology to improve the world
  • Seek7 using water resources more sustainably
  • Explore8 – innovating to help the planet and the people in our community
  • Strive9 – collaborating to support marginalised people in our city
  • Future10 – making positive financial decisions for ourselves and our planet

These programs, some individual, some in small groups and another as a Homeroom, enable students to develop essential skills that will be the key to our student’s future success.

Why Education Needs to Focus on Essential Skills

Education needs to move beyond academic content and focus on incorporating teaching these key attributes. Schools such as Santa Maria are willing and ready to reduce content and focus more on these essential skills; however, there are many requirements imposed on schools. Content-heavy syllabuses limit opportunities for deep learning, which enable the development of these skills.

However, we continue to explore ways to further enhance our offerings in this crucial area of learning and how we can offer alternatives to further engage our students.

By prioritising the teaching of these key attributes in education, we can prepare future generations for the rapidly changing world. Possessing these skills is becoming increasingly more important when it comes to succeeding in the modern workforce. Companies are looking for employees who possess these skills, so by developing these skills in students, we are preparing them for success at school and for a successful future.

These skills are not just important for success in the workforce but also for personal growth and development. Individuals who possess these essential skills are better equipped to navigate complex relationships, make informed decisions, and solve problems in their personal lives.

Developing these essential skills in our students will help our graduates thrive in the workforce and in life beyond the College gates.

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