Recent years have seen significant shifts in the world of work, with the focus moving away from industry, towards innovation and the ‘knowledge economy’. At the same time, the global economic slowdown has meant fewer labour market opportunities, particularly for young people. Consequently, young people today enter a world of unparalleled uncertainty and risk, with the most marginalised and vulnerable facing the greatest threat.
The majority of young people in South Australia continue to thrive, with lower than average youth unemployment, and a well-performing school system. But for a significant proportion of young people, the transition from school to further education and especially to the workplace, remains challenging. Efforts to improve formal qualifications and work-based training have been redoubled in response, but there is also a growing consensus that more must be done to build the ‘softer’ skills which employers say are increasingly important in getting on at work.
In this paper we explore the evidence for the importance of a greater emphasis on social and emotional learning, as part of a holistic view of young people’s education. We look firstly to the trends in the field globally, and in Australia and South Australia specifically, highlighting the need for new approaches.