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Rethinking assessments to align with the needs of the workplace

Jamie Southerington, director at Kinteract
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With GCSE and A Levels cancelled again this year, teacher assessments will be used to grade our young people’s academic abilities instead of exams. These exams at age 16 and 18 have long been criticised as an assessment of a person’s ability to remember a bunch of facts against the clock, rather than offering a more rounded view of their overall competencies or strengths.

Now our current exam system has been disrupted for the second year in a row, has the time come to move away from our antiquated examination system for good and instead come up with an alternative, more effective way to assess our young people?

Preparing young people for their future careers is difficult, especially right now as technological advancements continue to evolve and the job market continues to change at a rapid pace. A report published by Dell Technologies and authored by the Institute for the Future claims that 85% of the jobs that people will have in the future don’t even exist yet!

With automation technologies and Artificial Intelligence replacing humans in certain job roles, to succeed in the future workplace, young job seekers will need to demonstrate the attributes and skills that robots are unable to compete with. Creative thinking, problem solving, dispute resolution and excellent communication skills will be among the highly sought-after skillsets needed to fulfil the jobs of the future.

Connecting education with industry

The demand for skills over exam success is on the increase and current methods of assessing young people should reflect this. Why are we forcing pupils to continue to focus on an inflexible curriculum that isn’t relevant to the future needs of the workplace?

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The UK’s skills shortage has been widely reported and is estimated to be costing organisations £6.3 billion. The time has come to connect education with the needs of industry and to enable this, our education systems will need to shift focus from exam performance and instead to documenting a student’s core skills, aptitudes, and competencies throughout their education.

A digital lifelong learning record, that stays with a person throughout their education and beyond. Offering teachers a way to document, detail and showcase a more complete, rounded view of a young people’s academic abilities, alongside other key milestones, strengths, and skills. It can also carry on into their professional lives too, documenting training and professional development achievements.

The availability of these data points, easily accessible online, has the potential to help future employers better identify individuals with the right attributes or skillsets to fulfil these new job roles – a data scientist for example, or a cloud solutions architect. This pool of data will also help young people realise their core competencies and the future career paths that they potentially best suit.

Education from early years and beyond should encourage the diverse array of talents and strengths of every child. The time has come to shift the focus from academic success and instead prioritise skills and competencies and show colleges, universities and employers what our young people are really made of.

Jamie Southerington, director at Kinteract

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