Why are Emerging Skills Important for Secondary School Students?

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The term emerging skills have come into play for years now because of the recent evolution in digital technology and its use in every sphere of life. The ability of most secondary school graduates to gain meaningful opportunities in the outside world depends on their acquisition of these skills. These emerging skills will forever remain relevant based on how they are embraced by society at large – hence their continuous evolution. With that understanding, here is a list of some applicable emerging skills:

  • Coding
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Data processing
  • Systems analysis

In addition to these sets of skills, students also need to be equipped with a set of ‘soft skills’ that allows them to interact effectively within an increasingly digital world that relies upon interacting with others remotely or collectively on a digital platform or space. Several of the critical soft skills that students should possess upon graduation from secondary school include:

  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Adaptability
  • Creativity
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Problem-solving

Students must understand that soft skills work hand in hand with emerging skills because although technology in and of itself is emotion-free, people still need to feel a “human” connection and be able to interact in a manner that is both efficient yet personal. At first look, the emerging skillset may appear to be best-fitted for individuals seeking careers within computer-driven fields; however, nearly every competitive field, from technology and finance to art and education, has come to rely upon increasing usage of digital media and electronic platforms to deliver its services to consumers.

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One need look no further than the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to recognize the role that technology has played in keeping society functioning in spite of extended quarantining and limitations on person-to-person interaction. Businesses and institutions must be able to adapt to these new ways of delivering their products and services, and therefore, they need employees that possess a solid understanding of and proficiency with emerging skills.

Ways to Include Emerging Skills into the Curriculum

Since secondary schools are responsible for preparing students for successful futures, they must provide academic programming that fosters the development of emerging skills among their students. One of the most effective ways of accomplishing this huge task is to invite local professionals to school and discuss the critical skills within their professions. These discussions should be incorporated by school leaders and teachers, and the curriculum of each course should be modified to include exposure to emerging skills.

For example, most secondary schools require students to take a computer technology subject. Often these subjects focus on basics such as identification of computer parts and general computer usage. With a curriculum geared toward emerging skills, students should learn the basics throughout their elementary and middle school years, and secondary school-level courses should focus upon learning the coding process, develop programs and websites that will perform specific functions.

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Understanding Artificial Intelligence (AI) is another emerging skill with which students should develop proficiency. AI has played an increasing role in society since the mid-1970s and now affects everything from robotic and automotive technology to online marketing and services. Google and Facebook for example observe the power of AI in daily life. Both of these platforms use AI in order to shape and individualize the experience of the user. This allows students to develop an understanding of how systems function and then apply that knowledge within their own creative processes.

The wide range of modern technology use can be a challenge for educators on how best to organize curriculum content. As a result, schools should consider strategies that promote cross-curricular subjects in the bid to allow students not only to hear about their connections but also to have hands-on experience – this means that more practicals should be encouraged.

With this in mind, students must develop the critical soft skills of collaboration and emotional intelligence, as living and working in the digital age has increased the need to work and interact more with others in a productive manner. Students must now be taught to build a working relationship with others via their electronic interactions.

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