The five skills that all young people will need in the future and how you can help develop them

The five skills that all young people will need in the future and how you can help develop them image

Preparing today’s students for careers in the future can be a hard task – a lot of the knowledge they will need may well refer to technology that hasn’t even been invented or fully developed yet.

But there are certain skills that will be essential whatever the future brings. These skills will apply in any environment or workplace, and they will also help students reach their potential in education.

Although there are lots of skills that young people can pick up along the way, we’ve narrowed it down to five, which we believe are the most important and in demand. Together they make up our Skills Framework which underpins all our qualifications and awards.

Let’s break down each skill and look at some ways to develop them through STEM-related activities.

1. Teamwork

Why is it important?
In STEM fields, collaboration is essential for tackling complex problems that often require diverse skills and perspectives. That might be working as part of a team on a research project or building a structure that needs to last. Only by working together can we get the best use of individuals’ strengths and unique insights.

Potential activities for STEM students

– Group projects: learners are assigned into groups to work on research projects or experiments, giving them a chance to emphasise the importance of cooperation and dividing up tasks efficiently.
– STEM competitions: adding a competitive element to group tasks can make them more engaging and realistic. Activities like robotics competitions, hackathons or science fairs are great opportunities to unite students.

2. Communication

Why is it important?
Along with working in a team, communicating effectively is essential for sharing ideas, explaining findings and collaborating with others in just about any STEM subject. Keeping others up to date on research or sharing solutions could help them find their own solutions too.

Potential activities for STEM students

– Science presentations: as students work through projects, have them provide regular update presentations on their research. This will help them evaluate their processes and come up with ways to explain their findings clearly.
– Communication challenges: get students to think about different channels for communicating their work, such as videos, blogs or podcasts. Challenge them to consider the audience for each channel and how they can explain complicated concepts to as many people as possible.

STEM students plan their work

3. Self-belief

Why is it important?
Being confident in your own abilities is crucial in all walks of life and STEM subjects are no exception. Overcoming setbacks and learning from the results plays a huge part in eventually finding the answers to challenges and projects. We all know that scientists rarely stumble across the perfect solutions the first time, which is why experiments form a key part of their work. 178th time’s a charm and all that.

Potential activities for STEM students

– Growth mindset discussion: encourage learners to explore the concept of a growth mindset, where setbacks are viewed as opportunities to learn and improve. This develops an inquisitive approach to work and study, where many questions are sometimes needed to find the right answer.
– Measure progress: by getting students to set bitsize goals along the way, they can monitor their progress and celebrate their achievements as they tick them off. On the other side, if they fall short of those targets, what could they do differently? Start them off from a place of curiosity instead of seeing failure as an end point.

4. Problem solving

Why is it important?
Problem solving is at the heart of almost everything in STEM subjects, whether it be understanding complex formulas in maths or in working out coding instructions for robotics. Thinking critically and working out solutions is what really motivates many people in STEM fields.

Potential activities for STEM students

– STEM puzzles and challenges: these could be puzzles, quizzes and brain teasers to test knowledge or they could be bigger challenges and projects. Maybe there are engineering or technology-related projects that the school or college could work on that could benefit the community?
– Case studies: Analyse real-world STEM problems and discuss the potential solutions as a class or in groups. for example, could space tourism really take off and be sustainable? What challenges did the construction of the Empire State Building face and would it be any easier if done today?

5. Self-management

Why is it important?
Being organised and efficient with time is just as important in STEM subjects as elsewhere in education and in the outside world. When planning a project or experiment, making sure to allocate resources effectively is key to getting everything completed on time. This becomes even more important when students approach key milestones in their education, such as preparing for exams or completing coursework.

Potential activities for STEM students

– Goal setting: teach students to work towards SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound), goals for both their studies and their career aims. Maybe they have a specific notebook that is just for goals? Getting them to shake off their cautious inner voices and asking them to dream big is part of the learning (and fun).
– Time management workshops: offer guidance on managing study time, setting priorities and avoiding procrastination. Try out the Pomodoro technique with them and see if it helps.

Building these activities in their studies and making them STEM-specific can help students not only succeed in their academic work but also prepare them for the challenges and opportunities of their future education and careers.

And because of the interdisciplinary nature of STEM subjects, the things they learn in one area can easily be applied to other fields using these skills. See this video from Chesterfield High School in Liverpool where one of the students talks exactly about this.