Schools, vocational education & training (VET) providers, employers and researchers are aware of the need for young people to have well-developed life and career skills (sometimes known as soft skills or employability skills) for successful transitions to employment. Developing these skills among young people and documenting their level of acquisition is vital for successful entry into the workplace, particularly for those entering vocational pathways.
While some young people have the chance to develop these skills through employment opportunities before finishing their studies, others move straight from education into apprenticeships and traineeships. Youth, careers advisors and teachers and instructors want to understand better the nature of the life and career skills need, and the level to which they should have these skills to undertake successfully their apprenticeship or traineeship. Teachers and VET instructors are also seeking ways in which they can develop these skills in young people to the standard expected by employers upon entry, and are looking for ways in which to assess and document young people’s learning in these domains. This project seeks to address these issues.
Employers want, and young people need, good life and career skills to make a successful transition to work.
- To identify the life and career skills required for entry-level positions in four key industry pathways experiencing employment growth;
- To assist careers advisors and teachers to support better development of life and career skills among young people, strengthening their chances of securing employment, and of being successful in the work they obtain.
- To develop a portfolio tool that allows teachers to evaluate young people’s attainment of life and career skills, and allows young people to document this attainment.
- A profile of entry standards for life and career skills in four key industry pathways that young people enter, and where job opportunities are growing
- A set of teaching and learning materials that will support teachers to develop these skills among the young people they teach
- A portfolio assessment tool for school and vocational education and training educators to help them work with students to assess and document the degree to which they have attained these skills
- A report for systems, schools and registered training organisations that identifies and communicates clearly the types of life and career skills identified by employers for entry level roles in the four key industries, and the level to which they need to be attained prior to entry to ensure a smooth and successful entry to the industry.
How will this lead to better outcomes for young people?
- The project will lead to improvements in the quality of, and/or access to quality career information and advice by providing support to careers advisors and teachers so that more detailed and accurate advice is given to young people about what they need to be able to do to obtain and succeed in entry level roles in four critical employment areas.
- The study draws on the Core Skills for Work Developmental Framework and builds on the Life and Career Skills Self-Assessment Inventory to develop a complementary Life and Career Skills Portfolio Assessment Tool that is tailored to educational settings but designed to meet the needs of industry.
- The project builds on existing tools and products to create new materials that will support the development of life and career skills in educational settings.
Duration: 1st January 2021 – 30 September 2022
Stage 1: Determining entry standards for life and career skills
To determine entry standards for life and career skills, researchers will:
- Conduct focus groups with employers from 4 industry areas. Researchers will establish their views on the relevance of the Life and Career Skills Self-Assessment Inventory (LCSSAI) for measuring entry-level skills, and to determine minimum standards for employment readiness for each sub-domain.
- Conduct a workshop with educators from school and VET settings will be held to identify any gaps in the LCSSAI and develop any additional rubrics. The LCSSAI will also be revised for educator-based judgements using portfolio-based assessments.
Stage 2: Developing teaching and learning support materials
- Through two 1-day online workshops with teachers, the LCSPAT and its entry standards will be used to identify ways in which schools and registered training organisations can support the development of these life and career skills in young people in learning contexts, without assuming access to the workplace. Links to existing curricula and resources will be made.
- The task specifications for students to prepare portfolios against the LCSPAT will also be developed by drawing on workplace samples from each industry area in consultation with the employers who participated in Stage 1.
Stage 3: Trialling the support materials in schools and VET settings
The support materials will be trialled with 8 schools and 8 registered training organisations early in 2022, and the feedback will be used to refine the materials.
Stage 4: Validating the Life and Career Skills Portfolio Assessment Tool’s entry standards using the teacher-judged portfolio assessments
Employers and educators will participate in a blind review process of a sample of students’ portfolios using the Life and Career Skills Portfolio Assessment Tool. Through social moderation, the educators and employers will participate in discussions to reach consensus on the entry standards for each industry area.
Stage 5: Report finalisation and project dissemination
The report, teaching materials and assessment tool from the project will be finalised in consultation with the funding body (the National Careers Institute) and distributed to systems and professional careers advisor organisations.
The project will culminate in a 1-day online conference hosted by the University of Melbourne to build stakeholder awareness of the project products and how they can support employability skills development in schools and registered training organisations. Attendees will include careers advisors, senior secondary teachers, and representatives of career education professional organisations, education systems, and registered training organisations. The conference will take place in September, 2022.