5 changes that will prepare students for the future of work

Gig economy workers switch jobs and roles regularly, functioning more like freelancers than long-term employees
By: | September 9, 2020
Madison County Schools in Mississippi built a career-focused STEM foundation for students by developing an in-house elementary school tech curriculum in the absence of state standards.Madison County Schools in Mississippi built a career-focused STEM foundation for students by developing an in-house elementary school tech curriculum in the absence of state standards.

Students will need flexibility as they face a future of work that will operate increasingly as a gig economy and—since the COVID outbreak—as a remote economy, says one K-12 expert.

Gig economy-workers switch jobs and roles regularly, functioning more like freelancers than long-term employees, says Rachelle Dene Poth, a DA columnist and technology teacher at Riverview Junior Senior High School in Oakmont, Pa.

“Students need to have varied skillsets and be able to market themselves,” says Poth, who has also presented at DA’s Future of Education Technology Conference©. “They also need to be able to self-assess and ask: ‘What are my skills?’ and ‘What do I need to work on?’”

College-going has been emphasized to the point that many families now see the alternatives—such as a career in the trades—as second class, adds Richard M. Long, executive director of the Learning First Alliance, a partnership of leading public school advocacy organizations.


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Educators have to do a better job of detailing the lifestyle potential of these options for students and families, Long says. “You have to present it so it doesn’t look like you’re saying these kids have no future, when in reality they may have a great future with a ton of options,” he says. “

There’s a big demand for plumbers and people in those types of trades are making solid wages,” Long adds.

Here are five key changes educators should consider making to better prepare students for the future of work:

  1. Ensure equity begins early
  2. Develop creators, not consumers
  3. Stress COVID-era skills
  4. Develop on-the-job learners
  5. Create your own curriculum

DA’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on K-12.


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