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Adapting Today's Youth For Tomorrow's Work

Remember a time when a career advancement was taking on more responsibility? Like being given the keys to, lock up the building or open up in the morning was an advancement to be proud of and was received as a compliment by the employee. It seems these days you throw the keys to an employee with the attached responsibility and they won’t catch the keys… not interested in your responsibility based advancements.

Likewise I remember going for my practical drivers test the same week I turned 15. Don’t tell anyone in a uniform: I drove to the police station on my own in order to go for my driver’s test! These days there is a very different attitude to such independence activities. This causes frustration to the taxi drivers called parents and frustration for employers that don’t have the ability to present tasks that involve any driving.

So what’s happening here? What are our youthfully distracted contributors thinking about and how will they change to be ready for the next society requirements for work? Much is talked about in the difference between the gen Y and gen X etc.… so I won’t digress into this abyss of fundamental social differences. I would rather talk about the exciting way that education is changing to create the environment and structure for dynamic and conceptual thinking that will see our next wave of employees totally impress and surpass as all.

Understanding culture is always a foundational start to any change requirement. A culture in a community sense is something that helps us make sense of our world, like language, food and hobbies. This in turn can affect education starting from babies through our education system and on through our chosen careers. For example it is proven that in countries where disposable nappies are the norm, the children become potty trained latter compared to countries that still predominately use washables nappies.

So too then we need to assess our current culture of education at the same time as looking to the culture required to prepare for our tomorrows workforce, to give them a sporting chance at what career choices are most likely to be available. A note from the Germans and Swiss whom have recognised that the education framework may not be helping in preparation and readiness to work opportunities, now start vocational studies a lot earlier in the school curriculum. This begins at year 9-10 (third and fourth form for old school thinkers). It is also being considered that NCEA needs to have a business component credit included that comes from outside the school gates.

The education sector is buzzing with new digital technology curriculums with the notion that teachers will be potentially teaching “code” to primary school children in the near future. Clearly that causes a problem when teachers most likely don’t understand code themselves as yet. New curriculums of this nature are purely about preparing our children for now and into the future, jobs that may not even exist yet. Luckily our teachers accept this culture of learning responsibility and so there is an air of excitement in teachers integrating this into the classroom.

In 1930’s John Dewey, a psychologist and educational reformer stated “If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterdays, we rob them of tomorrow”

Let’s go to the beginning of the education journey, outside of the home. Early childhood services are embracing change in education that plays a part in the setting up of learning systems in our children and whanau to provide a foundation for the schooling years. Most services are embracing a hands on, boots in all, play based leaning framework. This has proven to be the best way for children to develop a practical, engaging, and creative learning structure that feeds the very changes talked about in later years at high schools and what our employers are looking for. This approach in early childhood education promotes an eager imagination, creativity and innovation with an abundance of open minded curiosity. Strangely these very things we appear to use less of as we age.

In the intermediate and high school sectors, the study of Robotics has risen to the top as one of the most effective education solutions to stimulate and engage students while providing a platform for creative thinking. The curriculum base is called STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). It is claimed that by the time children reach high school, most students have already decided whether or not they think science and math are “cool”… or not!

The world needs more problem-solving leaders, which means that we need more students excited about STEM topics. If students aren’t given the opportunity to learn at an early age how much fun engineering can be, how will they know if it’s something that interests them?

There are now robotic platforms designed to transform the STEM learning paradigm for young students and their teachers. When students have the ability to create fun while learning through robotics at this level, it can unlock a curiosity and a passion that will stay with them for life.

Digital Circus is a Hawkes Bay born company delivering support and training for teachers around the country on digital technologies as an interactive subject for children. A key aspect of this is establishing a Robotic wars competition here in Hawkes Bay to stimulate the digital educational ideals.

Nicola Kenny, director of E-Learning Digital Circus, says “this is not just about using technology, but developing other essential skill sets such as problem-solving, collaboration and the ability to take measured risks. Robotics allows the boys to build explicit skills that involves the construction of a robot, use of the internet and coding.”  


Last year Lindisfarne was involved in the VEX world-wide competition, and team Optic, led by Ethan Mckee Harris, assisted along with his self-designed Robot, managed to get into the regional semi-final in the Scrimmage held in Palmerston North. This year six schools have signed up to participate in the Hawkes Bay robotic wars, a concept supported by the Ministry of Education.

So let’s recap the metamorphosing education journey.

Our early childhood services will allow creative experimentation and creativity to allow better integration at primary schools where we will teach digital coding and computerisations. Then we’ll welcome the new high school children out to play in the business world and assess them on their creativity, problem solving and ability to integrate and apply their thinking to practical situations… We’ll throw robotic fighting in the middle and stimulate excitement for the all-time stable topics… and tomorrows young workers will live happy ever after in careers that aren’t even thought of yet… simple…

David Trim.

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