Education problems causing too many young people to miss out

Our education system isn’t doing enough to prepare students for success after school.

Today’s New Work Reality report, the latest in the New Work Order series from Foundation for Young Australians finds that half of 25 year olds aren’t in full-time work, despite nearly 60 percent having a post-school qualification

Mitchell Institute Director, Megan O’Connell says the findings are yet another warning that Australia’s education system isn’t working for too many people.

“We can’t keep focusing on last century’s education milestones, it is not enough anymore to get good high school grades or even go on to further study and training,” Ms O’Connell explained.

“The goal of a good education system should be to make sure every young person is on a positive pathway by their mid-20s, in meaningful employment and on a real trajectory for lifelong success.

“Careers education needs to start earlier than what we’re currently seeing. We can’t wait for students to reach tertiary education before they learn about what work they might want to explore.

“Students can start thinking about what they enjoy and what they are good at as early as primary school and learn about how they might contribute to different jobs.

“We also need better support for industry partnerships across all areas of education to strengthen capabilities that are needed for jobs.”

Ms O’Connell added that capabilities like curiosity, creativity, critical thinking and communication skills are essential for jobs and should be prioritised across all levels of education.

“If we don’t prioritise capabilities, we risk falling behind international education standards. Capabilities are not a new or novel concept, they have a long history in education systems around the world.

“We need young people to be able to recognise and talk about their abilities and talents, and assess themselves and others in different learning environments.”  

Ms O’Connell said education institutions can start making changes to improve outcomes for young people. Some Mitchell Institute recommendations include:

  • Making work experiences, including paid work, a core part of courses so all students can participate.
  • Designing new models of learning, like Victoria University’s block model, to allow students to have less contact hours and more time to work, look after families or participate in community activities.
  • Improving transitions across all areas of education to make students’ journeys through school, university, vocational training and work more cohesive.