By Jon Vincent, Principal, Glasgow Clyde College

Since the turn of the millennium, the world of work and its workforce has seen vast changes and become increasingly dynamic. The most notable impact comes from the evolution of technology and its continued advancement in automation and artificial intelligence.

As Principal at Glasgow Clyde College, the rapid development and changing nature of the workforce poses a major question of how best to educate and prepare our students entering this evolving and at times bewildering landscape. The World Economic Forum estimates that 65 per cent of primary school children beginning their education today, will be in jobs that haven’t yet been created; meaning further education establishments face the task of anticipating and preparing students with the future skills and knowledge for jobs that don’t currently exist.

It might seem like a daunting role, but the fourth industrial revolution presents huge possibilities for the education sector to adapt its teaching and learning practices and seize the opportunity as educators to rebalance the emphasis between hard skills and soft skills.

For many roles, qualifications will still be a necessary requirement, but we need to prepare for a future where experience and adaptable skills may ultimately play a bigger part in cultivating a successful career. Yes, businesses will continue to recruit people with hard or technical skills, but employers will also look at those who are creative, independent, have commercial awareness, can manage budgets, understand what consumers are looking for and possess good interpersonal skills.

This, I believe, is how colleges will future proof students for the world of work, ensuring they are flexible, adaptable and understanding of their own personal impact on business and culture. These "soft skills" will be the difference between those that thrive in the workforce and those that don’t. For example, many of our creative courses work with employer partners on live briefs giving students the chance to work within an employer environment learning how to communicate with a client, work with colleagues, manage budgets and understand a process from start to finish. As well as developing their skill or craft, this offers the chance to have a greater understanding of the impact their work has on a business and how it will be consumed by the end user - this is what will make someone a stand out candidate.

Many experts predict that it is increasingly likely that people will have four or five different careers in their lifetime, reinventing themselves for different industries and roles. By blending technical and soft skills, students will be able to adapt and flourish in the future.

To prepare for this change, education institutions, career advisors, parents and teachers need to be open minded about the nature of future career pathways and help support students with the right skills to be able to be well prepared.

I often hear concerns from employers and their representative organisations on the level and ability of students leaving colleges and universities. Their apprehensions are frequently centred around a perception of a lack of basic business understanding and the low awareness of commerciality and entrepreneurism. Students should be leaving our colleges and universities future-ready, prepared to take on a changing work environment, adaptable and motivated to dive into the world of work.

At Glasgow Clyde College, we are taking considerable steps to ensure our students are future-ready. We have introduced new courses such as an NC in Computing and eSports and an HND in Cyber Security to help plug industry-related skills gaps. Our online course offering has quadrupled since 2015, and our teaching environments are being adapted to create a more on-the-job feel, like our on-site horticulture education facility.

Additionally, our work in the community continues to grow thanks to partnerships with organisations such as the Prince and Princes of Wales Hospice, which offers our students the opportunity to work in a high street retail environment as part of the Beauty With a Conscience partnership.

All of these steps, which are continually evolving, mean our students will leave college with new and emerging skills needed to boost their careers and future employment.