How can you help students succeed in an ever-changing world? Transferable skills.


Today's generation of students will enter a fundamentally different workplace from that of their parents. Educators have a key role to play in developing the skills students will need in order to embrace change and flourish when they’re adults.

The conversation about the future of jobs and skills is one of the most important in education but it too often ends in the same place: future = more automation = more jobs for the robot overlords = less jobs for humans = fear.

When it comes to disruption, fear often comes along for the ride, be it now with automation and other changes or in the past, such as during the Industrial Revolutions. History shows us technology usually creates more jobs than it destroys. But it’s important to be aware of the winds of change and to adapt for the future.

What can we do to prepare?

Last year, Pearson commissioned research into the employment of the future and the skills we’ll likely need to thrive.

We uncovered skills that employers are likely to be looking for in 2030. We came up with two separate lists – one for the US and one for the UK. But there are five skills that feature on both lists and are therefore likely to be important in Australia too:

  1. Fluency of ideas: the ability to generate a number of ideas quickly (important for creative thinking and problem-solving).

  2. Active learning: being engaged with what’s going on around you and collaborating as you learn.

  3. Learning strategies: acts of reflection, seeking help from others, and trial and error.

  4. Originality: the capacity to transform knowledge in order to generate new ideas and concepts.

  5. Coordination: prioritising, switching and refocusing attention, combining and linking activities, following up on tasks, dealing with emergencies, overcoming obstacles and helping put things back on track.

Notice something about these skills?

They’re soft skills. They’re based on things that make us human. They’re not subject or course-specific, and they’re certainly not tied up in one industry. They are applicable to all industries. They’re transferable.

If we want to equip our students with skills for a changing world, education must change with it.

Getting ready for a career of transition

The average employee of the future will probably move through as many as five careers in a lifetime. It’s important that students be encouraged to develop and hone transferable skills, to help them with those transitions.

Many educators would be familiar with talking about transferable skills in this way:

  1. Higher order thinking through the 4Cs: critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication.

  2. Social and emotional thinking by promoting initiative, resilience, empathy and awareness.

How do we do it?

It’s widely acknowledged that inquiry-based, collaborative and project-based learning are valuable teaching methods for the development of transferable skills.

  1. Inquiry-based learning: begins by posing questions, problems or scenarios. Students are guided to identify and research issues to develop their knowledge.

  2. Collaborative learning: involves groups of learners working together to solve a problem, complete a task, or create a product. It’s based on the idea that learning is a naturally social activity that occurs through active engagement among peers.

  3. Project-based learning: a type of inquiry-based learning where students gain knowledge and skills by investigating and responding to a question, problem or challenge. The focus is on rigorous, authentic, hands-on, and interactive learning experiences.

It all adds up to adaptive teaching and active learning, something we’re focused on when developing resources for today’s classrooms.

Talk to your local education consultant about how our school resources can help to build transferable skills and match the way you teach and students learn to help them be successful in the jobs of the future.


Global Network Partner, Fluency of Ideas, All Out Performance, 2017.

Hannah Deborah Haemer, Jairo Eduardo Borges-Andrade and Simone Kelli Cassiano, Learning Strategies at Work and Professional Development, Emerald Insight, 3 June 2017.

Giovanni Emanuele Corazza, Potential Originality and Effectiveness: The Dynamic Definition of Creativity, Taylor and Francis Online, 29 July 2016.

Spotlight Work Skills, Skills of Coordinating,

Jo Earp, Equipping Students with ‘Enterprise Skills’, Teacher Magazine, 28 April 2016.

Heather Wolpert-Gawron, What the Heck Is Inquiry-Based Learning?, Edutopia, 11 August 2016.

Curtin University, Collaborative Learning,

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