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A new report on future skills reveals what do employers want from schools and education

A new report on education and future skills reveals leaders in the UK’s SMEs are divided on whether the role of education is to create efficient workers or to develop children into well-rounded human beings.

Developing the well-rounded personalities

Two-thirds of those responding to the survey said the purpose of education is to develop children into well-rounded human beings (68%). A third (32%) said it is to create efficient workers for the future. “We are educating today for the jobs of the future, for roles and responsibilities within businesses which will use technology and systems that are either in their infancy or haven’t even been invented yet”, says Richard Markham, chief executive of IBSCA UK and Ireland.” Despite the difference in opinion among SME leaders on the purpose of education, there was consensus across SME sectors that personal and professional skills – like problem-solving, communication, critical thinking and reflection – are valued over subject-specific knowledge. Only a quarter of respondents – mainly in the transportation and logistics sector – rated subject knowledge the same way.

Five most important future skills

The research also asked SME decision-makers about the skillset they most desire in future employees. The top five were:

  1. communication (88%),
  2. inquiring mind (78%),
  3. critical thinking (76%),
  4. open-mindedness (72%),
  5. principled (64%).

Empathy was valued by 63%. Interestingly, the skills least valued by SME decision-makers when recruiting entry-level roles are risk-taking (22%) and entrepreneurship (34%).

Competenses and IB

“The IB Learner Profile is designed specifically to foster the personal and professional skills that this research shows employers value most when employing young people,” said Richard Markham. “These skills are universally prized by employers across the globe and – along with internationally recognised qualifications from the IB Diploma and Career-Related Programmes – provide young people with a ticket to some of the most exciting career paths they can imagine.”Robert Harrison, director of education and integrated technology at ACS International Schools, which collaborated with IBSCA on the report, said: “As educators, it is important for us to understand the needs of employers so that we can help to prepare young people for the world.“The lack of consensus from the business community about what they are looking for from potential employees is indicative of the challenging and volatile job market that our young people will be entering.”It is, however, heartening to see agreement on the inherent value of personal skills. That’s one of the main reasons that, at ACS International Schools, we offer the International Baccalaureate (IB), because the favoured core competencies by businesses are deeply embedded into the IB’s approaches to learning.”

Discover more:

What do employers want from schools and education? | Ruth Holmes | Relocate magazine