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Class of 2030 - Preparing our children for workplace readiness in a volatile world

A new report created by Microsoft and McKinsey and Company's Education Practice, highlights the skills our students will require to succeed in the workplace in 2030. The class of 2030  and life-ready learning: The technology imperative report discusses the substantial changes to the way we work and the need for adaptability in an ever changing landscape. Interestingly, the study showed the number one factor determining success in the increasingly volatile and ambiguous work climate is social-emotional competency. As global workforce trends move toward more people-centered roles as we see a decline in technical roles, which will be either automated or conducted by artificial intelligence, emotional intelligence will be paramount to the success of both individuals and organisations as a whole. 

Below are some of the highlights of the study, showing the importance of teaching Social Emotional Learning in schools to ensure workforce readiness in a complex and uncertain work environment.     

By the time today’s kindergartners enter the workforce, activities will substantially change across most occupations and will increasingly require the application of expertise and creative problem solving, as well as collaboration, management, and the development of people.

The McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) estimates that, globally, about half the work people are paid to do today could be automated by existing technology by 2030, and up to 375 million people may need to switch occupational categories between now and then.

The strongest indicator from their study showed the need for teachers and school leaders to help students develop strong social-emotional skills.

Studies show social and emotional competencies can increase cognitive skills, measured by academic achievement tests, by up to 11 percent. In fact, student mindsets are twice as predictive of a student’s academic achievement than their home environment or demographic, according to a McKinsey analysis.

Social-emotional skills provide students with the perspective and flexibility necessary to function at a high level even when faced with uncertainty, change, pressure, stress, and other work and life challenges. This is critical, because change and uncertainty are going to be increasingly pervasive for the class of 2030. Trends indicate the class of 2030 will change jobs more frequently than any previous generation, as across nearly all industries, the impact of technological and other changes is shortening the shelf life of employees’ existing skill sets.

Helping students develop greater social-emotional skills will not only help them in their professional lives but also will help them pursue happier and healthier personal lives. Research has found that high-level social-emotional skills developed during childhood are correlated with a number of beneficial long-term health and well-being outcomes as adults, including lower rates of obesity, substance abuse, and criminal activity, and greater satisfaction in relationships and positive contributions to society.

While 63 percent of teachers embracing social-emotional learning is encouraging, the growing mismatch between job requirements and available talent suggests that more needs to be done.

Beyond degree attainment, increasing personalised learning and ensuring a deliberate focus on social emotional skills could also lead to a wider set of life, health, and well-being outcomes.

From our research, we know that technology can enhance the learning process by enabling teachers to save time, providing student-specific insights, driving inclusivity, and providing immersive learning experiences.

The Tacoma Public School District utilised AI powered analytics and improved its student graduation rates from 55 percent to 82.6 percent over the course of six years. This was not, however, an exercise in technology in isolation. Instead, the school set out to “measure the whole child,” with an intentional social-emotional skill agenda based on four goals:

Helping students achieve academic excellence

Creating partnerships between parents, community, and staff in educating children

Focusing on early assessment and intervention to ensure academic success

Creating and maintaining safe learning environments

Technology already plays a pivotal role in fostering social and emotional skills and personalised learning, and we expect this trend to accelerate.

The young people who contributed to this landmark study were clear: they had high aspirations for their future learning in order to engage in impactful work; they valued creativity, problem solving, and the use of technology; and they wanted more time spent developing the social and emotional skills that will help them navigate a future which will be profoundly social.

Microsoft and McKinsey & Company’s Education Practice, 2018*

The comprehensive and explicit SEL lessons taught in Second Step, effectively set students up for life-long success. Utilising technology through online streaming of lesson media, Second Step is one of the only evidence-based programs to cover all 5 core SEL competencies as outlined by CASEL.  

Visit our website to learn more about how Second Step can help your school or contact the Positive Pieces Education office on 1300 769 919 or at


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