Schooling is changing and must continue to change to meet the demands of the 21st century. Global competition, technological change, increasing consumer demands and the shift to a knowledge-based economy continue to drive changes in the nature of work, the requirements of employers, and the skills that workers need. Schools have always prepared students for work, but now need to prepare students to meet higher demands in the workplace. The proportion of low-skilled entry-level jobs is falling, and employers look for skilled and flexible workers who can navigate the world of work; interact with others; plan and organise; make decisions; identify and solve problems; create and innovate; and work in a digital world. Many employers expect school leavers to have already had some practical experience, enabling them to quickly become productive in a new job.
Students who would once have left school early to go to an apprenticeship or a job, or disengaged entirely from education, training and employment, now remain in school. Forty per cent of secondary students go directly on to university; 60 per cent do not. Schooling must meet the needs of all these students so that they can successfully transition to a job, a university degree, a VET course, or a combination of these.