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Just 58% of girls believe school is preparing them for their dream job – how can we arm them for success?

Diverse Girls Conducting Science Experiment at School, dream job

ARTICLE SUMMARY

Mya Medina from GoStudent explores the demand for essential life skills, financial literacy, and technology education among young girls in the UK. With only 58% believing school equips them for their dream jobs, the article delves into the crucial need to align education with the evolving needs of the next generation of women.

Mya is the UK Head of Customer and Tutor Management at tutoring provider and education platform, GoStudent.

Mya has spent more than a decade working in education and is passionate about ensuring all children have the chance to reach their full potential.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is “Invest in women: accelerate progress” and “Inspire inclusion”.

dream job

It acknowledges that women bring new perspectives to the table and, by empowering women, we can drive real change.

But when should this investment start? According to the GoStudent Future of Education Report 2024, which surveyed more than 1,000 UK students aged 10-16, just 58% of girls believe that school is teaching them the skills they need for their dream job, suggesting that until we listen to the needs of the next generation we won’t be setting them up for success.

When asked what they’d like to learn to prepare them for the future, girls cited mental health management (61%), life skills (56%), finance (52%), technology development (47%) and sustainability and climate education (40%) as their most-desired additions to the curriculum. This makes sense, given we are living in an age where the climate is in crisis, our political landscape is volatile, and our cost of living is high. Students can see the issues we are facing and want to tackle these topics in their professional lives.

But it is not only practical skills that matter. Girls have also identified the soft skills they need to thrive. They see problem solving (71%), creativity (54%) and curiosity to learn (44%) as essential in order to be ready for their future. These are all traits that make a great changemaker.

So, how can we best ensure the next generation of women feel ready for the future?

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Ask your child what their dream job is

And don’t just ask them once, ask them often. As children grow, so too do their passions and interests. When your child names a role, explore that with them: They want to be a marine biologist? Okay. What skills does that require? Why does that excite them? How can you help them learn more? Are there any books you could pick up from the library on this subject? By engaging on this level, you are saying “great, you can do this” and encouraging their belief. If their passions change, don’t let your enthusiasm drop. Most likely, you’ll identify common threads: perhaps all the roles mentioned involve using technology or solving problems. These are skills you can nurture in other ways.

Arm them with the tools they need to succeed

Given the clear demands girls are making for their education, it is perhaps not surprising that despite their wishes for the curriculum, they back their own abilities: 83% of girls believe technology lets them learn whatever they want, and 72% have confidence in the future and believe they have the means to succeed.

Gen Z and Alpha are true digital natives, and they understand the power of technology. Where the curriculum isn’t meeting their needs, consider seeking out apps, games and resources that will. Self-guided study is a powerful tool and encourages independence and curiosity. Some great free tools are Seneca Learning, YouTube classes or even simply your local library.

Another option is to explore tutoring as a means to nurture interests and passions that are not on the curriculum or are not covered as often as your child would like. If your daughter is a budding scientist, consider finding her an inspiring science tutor to dig deeper into the topic with.

Explore what is next for education

The way children learn now is not dissimilar to the way we learnt at school; however, the tools available to us have evolved rapidly. We have the ability to harness AI, VR and the metaverse to truly tailor the education experience. This means that children can learn at the pace that works for them, and that we can really foster the practical skills that allow children to apply their learning to the world they are living in. Maths class will still teach arithmetic, but in VR, it is taught in a simulated environment – a shop perhaps, or a boardroom.

Being vocal about our wants and needs for our children’s’ education is important. Schools often see the potential in new technology, but are unable to implement it due to lack of funds or resources. Explore the role you can play in driving this change.

Ensure children have role models

The importance of someone to look up to should not be underestimated, and teachers are a driving force here: 76% of girls believe they have inspiring role models around them. This is important and exciting. It means that over three quarters of girls see potential in those around them.

The future is bright, and I’m excited to see this generation thrive. If there is one final takeaway I can share, it is that in order to ensure women achieve their dream role, we should listen to the demands of students and invest more in education. In doing this, we are investing in all women.

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