What skills should we be teaching Higher Education students?

IMG_0614 Recently I did a presentation for the Careers Advisers Association (NSW/ACT)  – CAA – at my university and the program I run – The Academy at the University of Western Sydney. The CAA is an important organisation that, according to their website, “promotes career education as a central and vital part of schooling”.


I started the presentation with a challenge: how do we educate our students at a time of rapid change? I mean, IMB estimates that 90 percent of all data has been created in the last two years. Everyday there are new potentially disruptive technologies that can alter the way we think, live, work and see the world.


I do this exercise with my classes: I ask them to draw me a mobile. Anyone under 30 year old draws me a mobile phone – whereas less than a generation ago a mobile meant one of those dangly, cute things that hang above a baby’s bed!



As a result, I have started developing the skills (not the knowledge) that are necessary in  preparing graduates for the jobs of tomorrow. I presented seven of these at the CAA function:

  • Adaptability;
  • ‘Mistakability’ (learning from mistakes);
  • New literacies (in a digital age, we need something well beyond ‘reading, writing and arithmetic’);
  • Creativity (obviously inspired by Sir Ken Robinson);
  • Critical thinking;
  • Design thinking; and
  • Communication skills.


There are others including ‘Aesthetics’ (when was the last time you purchased something that was functional but ugly?).


Attached is the presentation that I used… It is an ongoing and expanding project, and I would love your thoughts…

CAA Arvanitakis July2014_Web


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2 Responses to What skills should we be teaching Higher Education students?

  1. Pingback: What does literacy mean today? Internationalisation as a form of literacy… | Prof. James Arvanitakis

  2. Ms M says:

    It is interesting that the Australian National Curriculum incorporates some of these already.

    This year we have had a big push in educating students at my school about Carol Dweck’s theory on mindsets. We were discussing if it could ever be possible as teachers, to asses student’s mindsets as being fixed or non fixed, assesing their ability to keep trying even though they have made a mistake, something which you have summed up perfectly in ‘Mistakability.’ Students being students (& being a bit cheeky), if assessed traditionally on this skill, would most likely purposely fail the first time & then do it again to score well in ‘mistakability.’

    What are your thoughts on this? How can we as teachers know that we have successfully taught this skill?

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