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Youth workers lacking skills needed by digital world of work


They’re usually thought of as being digital natives, but a new report has found youth workers actually lack the enterprise skills needed for the modern workplace.

According to a new report released by the Foundation for Young Australians, key enterprise skills including problem solving, digital literacy and financial literacy are in short supply.

Part of the problem is that current teaching curriculums focus almost exclusively on technical skills required for a particular task, role or industry. Technical skills provide for qualifications such as licences, certificates or degrees, and also include skills acquired on-the-job – like machinery operation or learning particular software. Enterprise skills on the other hand are more innate, and require being fostered from a young age.

The FYA report outlined enterprise skills as:

  • Problem solving
  • Communication skills
  • Digital literacy
  • Teamwork
  • Presentation skills
  • Critical thinking
  • Creativity
  • Financial literacy

The FYA report found less than half of Australian secondary school teachers reported frequently involving students in “small groups to come up with a joint solution to a problem or task” – the type of activity that fosters enterprise skills.

In looking at how young people fared in the transition from school to work, it was found that close to a third of Australian 15 year olds had low proficiency in both financial literacy and problem solving as well as a quarter demonstrating low proficiency in digital literacy.

Jan Owen CEO Foundation for Young Australians, said the New Work Order report confirmed Australia was undergoing the most significant disruption in the world of work since the industrial revolution, and how the nation responded was critical.

“The shifts in the local and global economy are creating new opportunities for our industries and our way of life, but they also present significant challenges and failure to act will see our nation left behind,” Ms Owen said.

“We need all young Australians to learn the skills to be digitally-literate, financially-savvy, innovative and adaptable and help them navigate complex careers of the future and thrive in every aspect of their lives.”