Wednesday, 10 April 2013

What do students need to learn. . .I mean REALLY

For my evening reading I thought I would peruse Stats Canada to check out what they have for occupations.  Now I am not planning on applying for a job there.  I just thought that as an educator, I should see what kind of market my "product" (my students) would be entering.  I was particularly interested in skills.  Really: what skills must I get across to my students.

Now I mean hey. . .WE ARE IN THE INFORMATION AGE.  Shouldn't we have a good handle on the breakdown of what people need in terms of skills.  Shouldn't we know with pinpoint accuracy (as when in 1977, the voyager spacecrafts were launched with such precision that they would slingshot around one gas giant to meet the next) what our students need today to meet the challenges of tomorrow. 

Here are some of the stats I came across.  This is a breakdown of what kind of occupations people over 15 were involved in during the 2006 census.

A  Management occupations
   B  Business; finance and administration occupations
   C  Natural and applied sciences and related occupations
   D  Health occupations
   E  Occupations in social science; education; government service and religion
   F  Occupations in art; culture; recreation and sport
   G  Sales and service occupations
   H  Trades; transport and equipment operators and related occupations
   I  Occupations unique to primary industry
   J  Occupations unique to processing; manufacturing and utilities
Total experienced labour force 15 years and over

Stats Canada

How about this.  Here are the top 5 occupations:

OccupationsLabour force (15 years and over)
All occupations16,861,180100.0
G211 Retail salespersons and sales clerks729,8404.3
A211 Retail trade managers341,4402.0
G311 Cashiers324,8551.9
G961 Food counter attendants, kitchen helpers and related occupations322,1051.9
H711 Truck drivers304,8901.8

From Stats Canada
So was this all a waste of time?  A lot of different skills there, Robinson.  All things won't remain the same.  Who know what the future holds?

I don't think so.

Over 4% of the population will be directly involved in retail sales.  And almost 25% of the population of Canada will be part of sales and service occupations.  This includes occupations like: real estate agents, hairstylists, funeral directors, babysitters, estheticians, butchers and bakers.

Now I am not a statistician, but these figures get me thinking about one thing: sales.  In 2006, 42% of the over 15 workforce was involved in the business and sales categories.  And there will be a continual rise of entrepreneurship adding to the population of sellers.  Won't the ability to sell be huge in the future.  And won't everyone need to sell: sell objects (on Craigslist even :)), sell ideas, sell ourselves to prospective employers.

So as educators and parents, lets teach the very transferable skill of sales: the art of listening to another's needs, the ability to make a convincing presentation, the difference between being persuasive and coercive, the skills to market something, and the idea of a win-win situation. 

Time spent teaching these skills will pay future dividends.

Thirty-five years later and Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are still active, still sending information back to earth.  There was future thinking behind these programs.  If only our own programs could be so encompassed in what lasts.