In 2017, a LinkedIn executive declared that people are now expected to change their careers 15 times in a lifetime. Twenty years ago it was considered to be five, yet the members of Generation X were mostly looking at a career for life.

Our Gen-Z students are therefore looking at stepping out of their educational journey into a future of job-hopping. While schools can set them up with a fount of subject knowledge, we cannot predict what expertise will be required for jobs that could be quite different in context and required expertise.

Schools need to adapt to this kind of future, yet unfortunately many are still stuck in a traditional approach, following a model that has been the same for decades. The range of offerings remains similar all the way to higher education, and changes in delivery or approaches to learning have not kept up fast enough with the evolving 21st century lifestyle.

Our younger generation no longer relies on one book to follow and be examined on; they harvest their knowledge from around the world as they utilise the internet for examples and perspectives. National systems, A-levels and the IB diploma are all in need of a shake-up and continuous review in order to keep up with the technology and non-linear learning environment.

A key area that our young people need in order to be prepared for a future of varied employment is a skill set that enables them to adapt to swift changes between jobs. If you are shifting what you do every few years, you need resilience and an ability to sell yourself to your next employer.

If you are shifting what you do every few years, you need resilience and an ability to sell yourself to your next employer

An innovative paradigm shift is required in schools, allocating time to building those enduring skills rather than just focusing on knowledge. If you look back on your own time in school, it is not the content you remember but the experiences that fostered your confidence and motivation; the projects, the events, even the stress and how you coped or didn’t.

At Verdala International School we are taking a leap of faith away from the traditional model, and offering a vocational alternative alongside our standard IB diploma, as we launch the IB Career-related Programme. Students will be challenged by a course that at its core, focuses on skills needed for a lifetime of employment, designed around what attributes a person needs in the workplace, including topics like collaboration, running projects, the value of feedback, and problem-solving.

The aim is to remove the barriers of learning, empowering our students to follow a course they feel in control of as they choose the subjects they are interested in, alongside a BTEC Business and Enterprise course that will engage them in a vocational journey and experiences in the workplace.

This course has at its heart a personalised learning journey that is less dictated by content; instead it is driven by choice; where books are not all-important and replaced by modern learning tools such as mind mapping apps, aggregators and wikimakers; where you present your assessment not in an A4 Word document but through moviemaker, vlogs and blogs.

As Ken Robinson eloquently put it: “We have to go from what is essentially an industrial model of education, a manufacturing model, which is based on linearity and conformity and batching people. We have to move to a model that is based more on principles of agriculture. We have to recognise that human flourishing is not a mechanical process – it’s an organic process. And you cannot predict the outcome of human development.

All you can do, like a farmer, is create the conditions under which they will begin to flourish.”

As educationalists our bread and butter is setting up our students to become lifelong learners who will have a successful future where they can do more than survive; we want them to thrive and be confident in whatever employment they choose to pursue.

In a rapidly changing world, particularly post-COVID, where education has become blended, hybrid and asynchronous, and our students are more independent and capable, our education systems need to adapt by offering more non-traditional alternatives for the young people coming through to feel connected and excited by, as they embark on an unpredictable career pathway.

Totty Aris, head, Verdala International School

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