Teaching enterprise skills in the classroom isn’t as scary as it sounds.

Teaching enterprise skills in the classroom isn’t as scary as it sounds.

To not just survive but thrive in a high-tech, global and increasingly competitive job market, young Australians need a portfolio of skills beyond the teachings of the traditional curriculum.

FYA’s The New Basics report shows that Australia’s top graduate recruiters aren’t only focussing on young people with top marks, they want enterprise skills. Young people with problem solving and leadership skills; innovators who demonstrate flexibility and ambition.

Around the world, the most successful education systems are focusing on immersive, real world experiences to build enterprise skills and to enable young people to adapt to an ever-changing environment.

FYA Education Consultant and former high school teacher, Sarah Fenton says that closing the gap between school and ‘real world’ experiences is essential to ensuring young people can build a transferable enterprise skill set.

“The traditional approach of our education system is largely to fill young people with a core base of knowledge which they memorise,” Sarah explains.

“But students aren’t always able to demonstrate why that understanding is important or how it is practically applied – which limits their ability to use (not to mention identify) these skills later on,” Sarah says.

FYA wants to see a broader systematic shift to build a nation-wide strategy for embedding enterprise skills in our education system. We need to start a national conversation about the about how to reconceptualise our approach to the future of work and with it our curriculums and courses to help young people develop the skills they require.

Of course, teachers could also seek out programs that build enterprise skills in young people, such as FYA’s $20 Boss Program or Worlds of Work Program, but there are also some things educators can take charge of in their classrooms to help prepare their students. And, Sarah says it is not as scary as it sounds.

“The idea of better teaching enterprise skills can be really daunting, because teachers are already time poor, and don’t have the luxury of shifting things around in an already crowded curriculum. But it doesn’t necessarily mean adding additional classes or subjects to the curriculum. It’s also not a matter of shifting the focus away from assessed content, but instead shifting the way young people learn the content,” Sarah says.

“Instead of putting all the emphasis on the content, we need to highlight the skills young people are learning too and fostering their ability to apply those capabilities in settings beyond the content. We’re already seeing many teachers putting this into action.”

For example, in a business management class students might be given a project where they can build a venture, develop a business plan and see the practical application of their financial literacy skills. Or in a history class if students delivering group work, students are being taught project management skills and are able to identify and explain how these capabilities support their ability to perform the task.

Using personal experience, Sarah says, is another great way for teachers to demonstrate enterprise skills in action.

“It could be as simply as highlighting how you put together the lesson plans or curriculum for the term in collaboration with other teachers as a way of highlighting teamwork in action or even identifying how delivering a class requires you to deploy presentation and communication capabilities.”

By learning to identify enterprise capabilities, to understand what they’re being taught and why, young people will be empowered to talk about and demonstrate how they’ve used these skills down the track.

Want to learn more about enterprise skills and capabilities? Read The New Basics here.

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