In five years’ time, it is said that more than one-third of the skills (35%) that are considered important in today’s workforce will have changed.
According to the World Economic Forum, by 2020 the so-called ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ will have introduced, amongst other things, AI, autonomous transport, biotechnology and genomics.
These developments will have a huge impact on the way we live, and the way we work. Entirely new jobs will be created, whilst others which are commonplace now will disappear. As a result, workers’ skillsets will also need to evolve.
A study conducted by the WEF found that these ten skills are likely to be most desired by employers in 2020:
- Complex problem-solving
- Critical thinking
- People management
- Coordinating with others
- Emotional intelligence
- Judgment and decision-making
- Service orientation
- Negotiation skills
- Cognitive flexibility
Interestingly, although negotiation and flexibility are high on the list of skills for 2015, in 2020 they will begin to drop from the top 10 as machines begin to make our decisions for us. A survey done by the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Software and Society shows people expect artificial intelligence machines to be part of a company’s board of directors by 2026!
Universities in the UK work hard to prepare students for successful future careers, and at application stage generally look for students who show the most potential, and who possess skills like those referenced above — in other words, those who will be best prepared for university and life beyond.
How Kings Oxford Prepare Their Students
At Kings, they aim to prepare their students as fully as possible, ensuring that they have the skills which will both make them attractive to their preferred universities, and in the future to potential employers. Kings Oxford do this not only through class-based learning, but also through an array of enrichment opportunities that help students broaden their knowledge and skillsets even further. A selection of these, and some of the skills that they nurture, are highlighted below.
There is a Student Council which gives students the opportunity to relay student views to staff on a variety of topics. It also gives members the chance to organise in-college events, such as fundraising activities and end-of-year balls. This enrichment option gives students the opportunity to hone a number of the top ten skills listed above, for example coordinating with others, judgement and decision-making, service orientation and people management.
As student Judy commented,
“I am part of the Student Council, actually I am the President of the Student Council. I really enjoy it because I want to improve my leadership skills.”
Irina also pointed out the advantages of involvement with the Student Council:
“I’ve been in the Student Council since the beginning of the year — I’m Social Representative. We have a few members of it, a board, but we don’t just do separate things — when we’re organising events, like the Romeo and Juliet play or the May Ball, we do it with the EFL Student Council. It’s very good for university applications, but it’s not simply for merit or reward. You receive so much experience from it, when you’re organising events, this teamwork really helps — it prepares you for university life.”
Trinity Arts Award
The Trinity Arts Award is another feature of Kings Oxford’s enrichment programme, and is designed to help students to explore their creativity. As the Trinity Arts coordinator states:
“Students are not only enabled to be creative and, in some cases, discover a side to themselves that they didn’t realise was there, but they are also helped to gain some of the other important skills to prepare them for university and beyond. Leadership and teamwork skills are vital at degree level, in the work place and in life generally. Whilst managing creative projects, students apply critical thinking and analysis to a joint goal and achieve some great work together. All very impressive when applying to university and importantly, their confidence and personal growth as young adults.”
Clubs and Societies
There are also a range of clubs and societies that form part of the enrichment programme. Again, many offer students the chance to develop and practise skills that now feature in the top ten. For example, Art Club is ideal when it comes to developing creativity. Student John commented,
“Art club helps me academically and my personal interests as well. It is about life drawing so I like to draw and why not do some drawings beyond class… This is the first time I have done life drawing.”
Debating Society is another popular enrichment option, which offers students the chance to learn and develop skills such as cognitive flexibility (being able to adapt how you communicate based on who you’re talking to), and negotiating.
Some of their clubs involve team sports, such as basketball club and football club. These offer students a great way not only to keep fit, but also to thrive as part of a team, something which in itself requires a good level of emotional intelligence, and the ability to coordinate with others.
Other clubs involve learning new hobbies, such as photography and even chess — a great example of an activity that uses both problem-solving and decision-making skills.
Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme
A further enrichment scheme which develops all of the skills that feature in the top ten is the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Comprising, at Bronze level, four sections (volunteering, physical, skills and expedition) it is completed over several months, and offers participants the chance to meet new people, learn new skills and enjoy physical activity. In 2007, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (the DofE), funded by The Pears Foundation, initiated in-depth research into the impact of the DofE on young people. One of several statistics established was that 93% felt they’d improved their teamwork skills (coordinating with others), 84% improved their decision-making skills and 76% stated that they were now better at sticking to tasks and seeing them through (complex problem solving).
Whilst the majority of students of A-level age choose to undertake the Bronze level award, two further awards — the Silver and Gold — are also offered to students between 14-24.
Volunteering and work experience
There are many opportunities to get involved with volunteering whilst studying at Kings, an out-of-classroom activity which can teach students a huge range of skills, as well as being hugely rewarding. Equally, unpaid work experience can be a fantastic way not only to get an idea of what a certain type of career would be like, but also to learn new skills in areas such as complex problem-solving, people management, coordinating with others, judgment and decision-making and service orientation. Students who are interested in applying for a medical degree, for example, have the option to undertake work experience placements in local hospitals, or with the British Red Cross whilst completing their studies at Kings.
Extended Project Qualification
A final enrichment opportunity available to A-level students, including those at Kings, is an EPQ (Extended Project Qualification). The qualification is taken by some students in England and Wales, and is equivalent to half an A-level. It can be particularly good for nurturing skills like critical thinking. All students may take an extended project as a free-standing qualification, and although the choice of topic is free, they must show that it is academically useful, either related to their current course of study, or their future career.
Kings Oxford is a modern independent college for ambitious students looking for a mature yet supportive learning environment and community in which they can express their own identity, explore their interests and achieve their ambitions. The college supports students to become responsible and independent learners, based on a mutual respect between staff and students.