Preparing Youth for the Future of Work: World Youth Skills Day 2022
July 15, 2022
In 2014, the United Nations General Assembly declared July 15 as World Youth Skills Day to “celebrate the strategic importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship (UN.org, 2022).
Why the focus on youth skills?
The world is changing, and it’s changing fast. With the rapid adoption of digital technologies, employers are now struggling to find candidates with the digital skills they need to keep pace. And, there’s no question Canada is falling behind in adopting digital skills. According to Salesforce Canada’s 2022 Digital Skills Index, 81 per cent of Canadians say they don’t have the resources to learn the digital skills required by businesses today, and 86 per cent say they are not prepared to meet the digital skills requirements of the future (Canadiansme.ca, 2022).
At the same time, as more and more work tasks become automated or soft, human skills have become increasingly more critical. These include skills such as creativity, emotional intelligence, critical thinking, collaboration and problem-solving, which machines cannot yet replicate and developed through practical hands-on learning experiences. It’s why we’re seeing employers invest in upskilling and reskilling their workforce through experiential learning.
But what about those preparing for or about to enter the workforce?
Actua believes the skill development efforts underway in the workplace must trickle down to our education system, so the next generation of leaders and innovators feel equally equipped with the latest, most in-demand skills needed to drive innovation and strengthen our economy.
Equipping youth with the latest, most in-demand skills.
To meet the needs of the changing workforce, Actua believes we must re-evaluate, re-imagine and re-engineer education. How?
Sharpen our focus on STEM learning.
There’s no question that STEM needs to be an intrinsic part of everyday learning, especially digital literacy and data science. Evidence-based research confirms that engaging youth early and often in STEM leads to enhanced economic well-being and quality of life later in life. That said, we need to move beyond previous perceptions that STEM education is only for the most gifted and recognize that STEM education, and in particular digital learning, is an essential service that should be accessible to all youth.
With the support of our partners, particularly the Government of Canada through its CanCode program, Actua’s network members across Canada offer year-round digital skill-building camps, clubs and workshops for youth in K-12. These programs help youth develop digital literacy skills while learning to code and exploring topics like app creation, artificial intelligence and big data, and focus on engaging those who continue to face barriers to accessing and adopting digital technology.
Empower educators with greater skills, tools and resources.
Educators can be highly influential in guiding innovation in the classroom. But, to continuously innovate and deliver a curriculum that aligns with our economy’s evolving needs, educators must have the opportunity to learn new skills alongside their students.
We know for example, that while STEM skills are increasingly in-demand, many teachers across Canada do not feel adequately trained to teach coding, data science, or emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence. Actua-led survey revealed that:
- 9 in 10 teachers believe that STEM skills and knowledge are important to students’ future education and careers; and
- 94% of teachers agree there is room to improve their STEM and digital skills.
That’s why Actua provides K-12 pre-service and classroom teachers professional development opportunities and resources designed to enhance learning outcomes and equip youth with the latest, most in-demand STEM skills. And this past year, we even began offering micro-credentialing opportunities to recognize and develop an educator’s skills portfolio.
Increase dialogue between industry and higher education.
To stay modern, relevant and competitive and to ensure their curriculum aligns with the needs of our economy, education institutions must understand emerging industry trends, such as industry challenges, in-demand employability skills and future job opportunities. Likewise, the private sector can greatly benefit from the insights on emerging research, theoretical knowledge and learning approaches that educational institutions hold.
Therefore, we must foster greater dialogue between the private sector, government and education institutions and seek out multi-sector partnerships that expand education and training opportunities for youth, such as work-integrated learning, micro-internships and micro-credentials.
Actua is uniquely positioned between its network of post-secondary institutions, industry partners and government. Our industry partners help us identify the latest, most in-demand skills, and then we work with our network to deliver STEM learning experiences that are guaranteed to prepare youth for careers in these industries.
To learn more about how Actua is preparing youth for the future of work thanks to our partners RBC Foundation, Microsoft Canada and the Randstad Canada Foundation visit: actua.ca/career-readiness.