Teaching strategies to prepare students for the jobs of the future

Teaching strategies on developing soft skills

Experts believe teachers must have greater autonomy to innovate, have appropriate technology and apply teaching strategies that involve students through practical and collaborative activities.

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When we talk about automation, the transformation of employment and skills that students must develop to face the challenges of the future, we usually focus our attention on the role of universities, companies and students. However, what do teachers think? Aren’t they the foundation of education? A recent survey revealed the point of view of teachers facing the imminent transformation of the educational ecosystem, and what they consider are the best strategies to prepare students for 21st-century jobs.

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), with the help of Google for Education, conducted a survey of 1200 educators from more than 16 different countries —including Latin American nations such as Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico. The research sample brought together teachers from elementary and secondary schools (70%), administrators, principals and assistant principals (30%). The objective of the study was to discover which teaching strategies are the most effective in preparing elementary and secondary students for the future of work, and how technology can help support educational innovation.

Teaching strategies

The research found that 79% of educators believe that the development of soft skills is critical in conjunction with fundamental literacies. 77% of the educators think that their formative work is essential to develop lifelong learning abilities. Most teachers surveyed affirm that education must transcend the classroom; Students must learn to apply knowledge and concepts to real life at an early age. Also, they highlighted the following teaching strategies as "very important" to develop soft and hard skills:

  • Active learning (51%); e. g. Involve students in activities such as reading, writing and problem-solving.
  • Project-based learning (45%); e. g. Confront students with complex and real-world educational challenges.
  • Cognitive activation (42%); e. g. Encourage students to focus on the method to arrive at a solution, rather than the solution itself.
  • Personalized learning (40%); e. g. Address the interest and needs of individual students.

76% of educators believe that students benefit more from practical learning than traditional classes. On the contrary, only 18% consider traditional instruction as one of the most effective strategies.

Technological tools as teaching support

Educators surveyed see technology as a key instrument that can support different teaching strategies; it can improve learning by promoting interaction, commitment and collaboration. However, teachers think that their role is vital to prepare young students for the future of jobs. On the other hand, the study evidenced the need for teachers to be supported with relevant technologies, as well as the time and space to learn and plan activities aimed at fostering 21st-century skills.

The experts at the Economist Intelligence unit believe that, for today's young students, the ability to learn throughout life will be a crucial part of future success. To achieve this, teachers must have greater autonomy to innovate, have appropriate technology and apply teaching strategies that involve students through practical and collaborative activities.

If you are a teacher and want to know more about strategies and educational trends, check out the Glossary of Educational Innovation terminology.