How to Prepare Students for the Future of Work While They’re Still in High School

8 min to read
A student learning new skiils siting at a table with an adult

"We are currently preparing students for jobs that don't yet exist … using technologies that haven't been invented … in order to solve problems we don't even know are problems yet."

—Richard Riley, former Secretary of Education 

If you are wondering, “why is it important to prepare for the future?” Look no further than some of the most popular career paths that are available today that didn’t even exist five years ago.

Not too long ago, a student saying that they wanted to be a data scientist, digital artist, app developer, virtual assistant, or blogger would’ve been met with confused faces and the standard “what’s that?” question from parents and educators. 

You can’t blame them. Most of those jobs (if they even existed yet) were just fringe roles on the outside of tech spaces. And at the time, education and job prep were still based on careers that had been solidified. But, the students of the time filled those new roles, many of them having to teach themselves how to effectively do the functions of each job. 

Today, many now wonder if the same thing will happen again with our current students and will there be a skills gap between graduates and careers? Well, it will. A 2018 report by the Institute for the Future (IFTF) said that 85 percent of the jobs that today’s students will do in 2030 don’t exist yet. So, how are we supposed to prepare students for the jobs of the future, such as a self-driving car mechanic, telesurgeon, or whatever else we see appear?  And what about students who are ready to apply themselves to the job market now (whether to make some extra money, save for college, or help support their families?)

Learn more about how to help prepare students for the future of work, balancing a career and school, and the future of the job world. 

How Online School Can Support Working Students

When it comes to preparing students for the future of work, online school may prove to be a helpful solution. There are many advantages to online school, especially for students who are looking to begin their careers immediately or start working while still in school. 

For example, one of the most obvious benefits of online school for teenagers is the flexibility that an online curriculum provides. Since an online school student has more autonomy over their class schedule, study time, and homework hours, they can more easily accommodate a part time or full-time working schedule without the stress of fixed school hours. In addition, online school also allows students to work from wherever they need to—so they can log onto school from their office, their workplace, or their home. 

If you have a student in your life who wants to start a full-time or part-time job, it doesn’t have to come at the expense of their education. Consider an accredited online public school program like Connections Academy to help your student get the best of both worlds. 

An online student using a STEM tool to help prepare for the jobs of the future.

Prepare Students for Any Future Job with These 4 Skills

So, how can students prepare for jobs for the future? 

We asked this question to some of our Connections Academy® teachers as they’ve seen firsthand how the world has changed and how we can better prepare our students with the future job skills for it. 

Regardless of what jobs of the future may hold, certain core skills can help give students a leg up for any job. Prep students with these four future job skills that can be applied to many different future jobs:

1. Complex Problem Solving

Today, employees need to think independently, identify increasingly complex problems, and solve them or present ideas on how to solve them.

Our teachers suggest using these methods to allow students to develop problem-solving skills:

  • Provide project-based learning opportunities that allow students to define a real-world problem and create and test solutions for it, like making a fruit battery out of a lemon. 
  • Give students more responsibility for their learning pace as they advance through the school years like these three Connections Academy students graduated high school early by taking advantage of their online school schedule. 
  • Track students' problem solving in real-time through an education management system that helps you as their Learning Coach step in to help when needed.

2. Critical Thinking

Thanks to the digital age, we're flooded with more information today than ever. But we’ve also seen that there are chunks of it that are false, which can cause students to get sucked down the rabbit hole of misinformation. Not only will this hurt their academics if they use unverified and/or misleading information to complete an assignment, but it will also hurt their chances at employment since they may not have developed important critical thinking skills that employers look for. 

We can help teach students to think critically. This means differentiating between credible and noncredible sources; analyzing information for bias, logic and accuracy; and recombining that information to create new solutions and products. Some of the best ways to do this are to:

  • Set high information standards with multimedia resources from leading education publishers and providers. 
  • Integrate critical thinking, research, and writing skills across content areas—from math to American history. 
  • Help students sharpen those skills in online clubs and courses geared to their personal passions and career interests.

3. Collaboration

Collaboration is more important than ever in today’s work environment. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic forced people into remote work and learning environments, the workplace silos (cubicles) were already trending down in favor of getting coworkers to interact with each other. Some industries have teams regularly connecting with co-workers all over the world through digital tools…an advantage that an online school graduate will already possess.

According to our teachers, collaboration skills can be practiced and improved if you encourage your students to: 

  • Work and learn online with peers from diverse backgrounds and geographic areas.
  • Team up on group projects where they learn to plan, delegate, communicate, and hold one another accountable for meeting a common goal. 
  • Learn and practice foreign-language and cultural skills with native speakers online. 
  • Use online collaboration tools respectfully and effectively for everything from the chat room to the virtual classroom.

4. Life Skills

Life skills—the abilities and behaviors that help you deal effectively with the challenges and pivots of everyday life—are skills that allow students to be as adaptable as possible. As future jobs and workplaces continue to evolve faster than ever, we know these life skills will never become outdated:

Learning these four skills will help prepare your child for wherever their career choice takes them in the unpredictable future of work. To help them begin the career exploration journey, check out our 5 Ways to Help High School Students Pick a Career post.

E-guide for Connections Academy with a green background and a graphic of a laptop with the purple eGuide.

Ready to Learn More

About Connections Academy?

Explore the benefits of attending Connections Academy, a tuition-free, accredited online public school that’s passionate about helping your child thrive.  

Get Your Free eGuide


Related Posts

Sorry, there are no blog posts to display.