How to gain 21st century skills in a 20th century workforce?

How to gain 21st century skills in a 20th century workforce?

How can we teach 21st-century skills today that will impact the future of works?

Opinion Piece Written By Dhawal Nayak, The Grand Student Survey Team

Unfortunately, Innovation and Education often do not go hand-in-hand. I believe society is still operating under a 20th-century paradigm. Time is ticking and yet we have not formulated a rescue plan.

Generation Z could potentially face the same level of anxiety and anger towards their parents — similar to, Generation Y, who are facing a bleak future. An in-depth investigation by The Guardian concluded that Gen Z seems to harbor anxiety about things like; distrust in government, thinking “the system is rigged”, and their opinion of the job market is even worse — 79 percent worry about getting a job, while 72 percent worry about debt.

An article written in March 2017 from the Sydney Morning Herald states that underemployment is up in Australia and around the world. It’s not because of automation, or because Skynet has started to gain artificial consciousness and seeks to exterminate the human race in order to fulfil the mandates of its original coding — no. Rather, employers are creating more jobs with part-time hours.

Alongside this disruption, there is a debate raging between those who believe we are heading towards unprecedented technological unemployment, and those who believe job prospects for people, with the right mix of talent, have never been better.

Studies published by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation shows that the U.S. labour market is not experiencing high levels of job churn (defined as ‘new occupations being created while older occupations are destroyed’). In fact, it’s the exact opposite; levels of occupational churn in the United States are now at historic lows.

We can thrive in today’s world — we can educate and prepare the next generation today by teaching them skills required to work alongside new technology, that is disrupting the job market.

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”

— Gandhi

Elon Musk is building crazy rockets, while simultaneously working on amazing renewable energy projects. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook is working on Apple’s next big thing — augmented reality glasses. Innovation is happening all around us, but the education system has been slow to adapt. Young Australians aren’t getting the opportunity to experience the work of tomorrow. The traditional pathway of vocational training and university studies will provide them with the hard skills — which are easily defined and measurable. Yet the soft skills like entrepreneurship, emotional intelligence, decision-making, and problem-solving are hard to find in a curriculum.

“With hard skills, you can manage your boss; and with soft skills, you can lead your boss.”

— Professor M.S. Rao, leadership specialist

More than 85 percent of the executives and recruiters surveyed in the Gallup-Lumina Foundation report thought that businesses and universities should work more closely together to develop career paths for students. However, fewer than 22 percent of these businesses had an internship or student advancement program in place.

Teaching 21st-century skills today will impact the future of work. We must work to preserve these opportunities for future generations, which is why we are leading an initiative to do just that.

For more information, visit

Get Experience – While You’re Studying

Get Experience – While You’re Studying

Education isn’t simply about what you learn in the classroom.

We all know how important life experience is ― how it defines us as humans, helps us understand our inherent values and makes us who we are today.

They say,

We grow through our experiences in life!
― (usually someone important).

Education is important, I don’t disagree. So is work experience ― however, I believe that one should seek the opportunity to get into the industry while they are still in school. At 15 years old, you may not know what you want, what you enjoy, where your passion lies, your values or what “lights you up” ― that’s just normal. I mean, most of us feel like we don’t know what we are doing – and we often change direction depending on the circumstance and opportunities we come across.

I would like to talk about how important it is to acquire work experience. I believe we can motivate students as early as high school to explore the workspace ― and grab real experience. This experience would better equip students to ask, and answer, the following questions for themselves:

  • What do I like about the job?
  • What don’t I like about the job?
  • Can I see myself doing the job on an everyday basis?
  • Do my values align with the kind of work they do?

and many more…

We are living in the 21st century – the “Ideas Economy”. The next generation preparing to enter the workforce is known as the Global Generation (Gen Z). It is comprised of around 20% of Australia’s population. A research conducted by Vision Critical, The Everything Guide to Generation Z states, “Generation Z is mature beyond its years. The words they use most commonly to describe their state of mind include happy, confident, motivated and excited ― just what anyone would hope for a generation now coming into its own.”

Gen Z is likely to be our most entrepreneurial generation, and given the right opportunities will help them discover where their passion lies. Experience will build confidence – which allows students to pursue a path and steer in the direction best suited for them

I remember when I was first entering the workforce, every employer I met, every door I knocked, I got the same response – “No experience, No job” ― a catch-22. At the time I realised what I had to do ― get work experience!

I did it the hard way, it took some time, several disappointing moments but at the end, it’s worth sharing my experience to help others with their journey.

I believe work experience allows the next generation to construct their own mindset and help them make more well-rounded decisions.

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”
― Mark Twain

I’m currently heading up a project called “The Grand Student Survey”.  Our goal is to empower young emerging Australians by providing real work experience opportunity in the area of their interest. We are working with schools, local businesses and industry partners.

Our mission to facilitate connections between students, schools, businesses and the community. Let’s work collaboratively to support them, help find right connections, provide mentorship, and opportunities to experience.

The possibilities are endless when you empower students to be lifelong learners.