Too many educational policies are also based on the notion that education, and working life, is a linear pathway, when in fact opportunities to change course, re- skill and re-focus are increasingly essential throughout life.
As the American writer Alvin Toffler stated: “The illiterate of the 21st century won’t be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and re-learn”.6
Foundational education (NZQF L1 and 2, in both secondary and tertiary) needs to develop the broad core capabilities that make someone employable and adaptable in the workplace. Interestingly, employers cite the same skills requirements for employees no matter which level of the education system they are emerging from. Our training systems are also flawed by being based on the concept of training prior to work. With industry needing a highly skilled, adaptable workforce, we need to be looking at retraining right through a person’s life. This could include looking at level 5 and 6 apprenticeships and learning beyond level 6 to facilitate constant development. This is especially important in ensuring our ageing workforce is able to adapt to sometimes entirely different industries than they are used to.
Lifelong learning also needs to be about our teaching workforce. New technology means teaching staff in some areas face their knowledge being out of date within a few years of them entering the profession. There needs to be a consistent focus on professional development and upskilling our educators so their pupils receive the best possible education.
- How can we ensure people have access to opportunities to reskill and refocus throughout life?
6 Alvin Toffler, 1970, Future Shock.