Julie Sampson – Learning Director

Research into the skills desired by employers continues to highlight the various capabilities that are needed in the 21st century. For example, Forbes Media (April 2020) highlighted the top 5 soft skills desired by employers as critical thinking, data literacy, tech savviness, adaptability and flexibility and creativity.

Similarly, LinkedIn (January, 2020) researched their vast network of employer information asking the same question. Their findings showed the top 5 desired capabilities are creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability and emotional intelligence.

University and training courses are developing these capabilities more intentionally in their programs, more so than ever before. For example, university medicine and some other medical courses no longer simply rely on the ATAR for gaining entrance.

Students undertake the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) as well, which includes sections on verbal reasoning, decision making, abstract reasoning and situational judgement. The new Bachelor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (University of Adelaide) includes first year units on design thinking, entrepreneurial mindsets, decision making and innovation and creativity.

The Certificate III in Hairdressing has units on communication skills, creativity, design and planning and problem solving. These are just some examples across a range of different training opportunities.

As a college, we will do our students a serious disservice if we are not rethinking our approaches to teaching and learning to ensure there is intentional inclusion of capability development in our programs.

Hence, the teaching staff have been reviewing our philosophy of teaching and learning at Cornerstone and are naming what we see as the key graduate qualities for our students at Cornerstone College. As parents/caregivers, and for educators, we recognise the shift in education from focusing mainly on the traditional 3Rs, reading, writing and arithmetic (1970s), through a growing focus on social education and environmental awareness (1980-90s) to now focusing greater intention on capabilities (21st century).

  • Our initial set of goals are that graduating students at Cornerstone College will:
  • Know they are valued, unique and loved by God
  • Demonstrate resilience, embrace change and persist with challenges
  • Possess relevant skills and knowledge in preparation for future opportunities
  • Use their heads, hearts and hands to respond to the needs of others
  • Be active citizens who champion diversity, are environmentally responsible and act ethically
  • Think critically and creatively and are curious, collaborative and reflective
  • Show initiative, communicate clearly and work effectively as independent learners

I share this now as many students over this coming term will be thinking about their future, choosing subjects for next year, enrolling in university or TAFE courses for 2021 and looking for apprenticeships and other work. Students can also consider what the employers are indicating as key capabilities for employees in the 21st century.

As we (teachers and families) support students through these considerations, we can assist students to consider the capabilities they need to develop, not just discuss subjects.

Students can consider what are their natural capabilities but also what new capabilities will they need to focus on or develop further given the future pathways they are considering?

We wish our students entering Year 10, 11 and 12 in 2021 all the best as they plan for next year and their future beyond college. For those choosing their path through Senior School, we challenge them to consider what capabilities they may require, not just the content of subjects that they think they might need.