Are our youth ready for the future?

With the skills needed by the next generation of global employees changing at a fast pace, schools are having to adapt to keep up and teach students more than just how to pass exams. Neil Tetley, Principal, explains how international schools such as Hastings School in Madrid are teaching a range of 21st-century skills from creativity to adaptability and problem-solving.

Hastings International School Spain

Hastings International School, Spain

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Teachers seem to think the answer to the question 'Are our youth ready for the future?' is clear: 70 per cent are confident that their young students are prepared for the labour market that awaits them. The problem is that both young people and employers are not so sure: more than 50 per cent are not satisfied with the preparation they receive for today's working world or that of the future.
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The key to this lack of confidence lies in the fact that the set of skills developed in the vast majority of schools are very different from the skills required for day-to-day work in the 21st century. Mechanical reasoning and intelligence based on the capacity to memorise are the most rewarded attributes in Spanish classrooms. But what about the concept of ‘creativity’ that is so fashionable right now? And how about emotional intelligence? Or the ability to resolve conflict?

Learning to cope with change

Broadly speaking, it turns out that the skill most sought after by employers is the ability to face challenges ingeniously, to adapt to the changing context of work. Ironically, the kind of intelligence we all need now includes knowing what to do when we don’t know what to do and being able to engage in highly complex uncertainties without being thrown off balance.School search and education advice - connect with our in-country expertsGuy Claxton, one of the most prominent British thinkers in the field of education, said that, “Being a good learner in real life has very little to do with intellectual ability or passing exams.” The educational model designed by Dr Claxton is known as ‘Building Learning Power’ and seeks to awaken a student’s passion for learning. Today, it is used in a large number of schools around the world, including some centres in Madrid, such as Hastings School.This British school located in the heart of Madrid has implemented a unique system across its six campuses, which sees education as mental training aimed at developing the 21st-century skills (such as communication, critical thinking, teamwork and adaptability) that are so necessary in this changing world. This education aims to develop social skills rather than merely teach knowledge. Importantly, far from compromising academic results, this has proved to be the key to achieving excellence in official examinations. Skills for the modern workplaceAccording to the latest report of the World Economic Forum on how technological progress will transform labour markets, the ten main skills that will be most in demand by employers by 2020 include: critical thinking, emotional intelligence and creativity. It is, therefore, clear that adapting to these (not so distant) needs is a ‘must’ for education in general. What’s more, it may be even more essential at the university stage, where young people are preparing to make decisions regarding their future, and where they put these skills into practice for the first time. Related to this, in Spain we are beginning to see some educational centres for young people between the ages of 16 and 18 that offer a pre-university experience adapted to the times, as is the case of BSB Nexus and Hastings Nexus, which will open in September 2019. These centres seek to train students in these 21st-century skills and to reformulate the education on offer, so that it provides them with a tailor-made curriculum and the only competitive advantage that they will be able to use throughout their lives: the ability to learn and unlearn to continue growing.  For better or for worse, only those who are best able to adapt to change will survive, as Darwin well knew. Nowadays, this ability to adapt can only be taught through an education like that provided at Hastings School.
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