Somerville House is preparing students for the future workforce

With much of today’s media coverage often focused on job losses stemming from automation, a recently published report from Deloitte Access Economics, The Path to Prosperity: Why the Future of Work is Human, looked at how robots and technology is increasingly taking over monotonous and repetitive tasks, resulting in the creation of more interesting jobs for humans.

The report states that over eighty percent of jobs created between now and 2030 will be for ‘knowledge workers’, establishing that we can use technology to our advantage to create more meaningful work. The report also found that two-thirds of jobs will be strongly reliant on ‘soft skills’ such as customer service and health care, with a strong focus on digital literacy.

Along with allaying concerns and demonstrating that humanity is not facing a dystopian future of rising unemployment, excitedly the report also showed that the future of work is female, with interpersonal and creative roles ‘of the heart’ becoming the hardest of all to mechanise.

Principal, Mrs Kim Kiepe, said she is encouraged by the findings and is proud of how they validate the academic, social and emotional learning opportunities available to all students at a school such as Somerville House.

“Our core mission is to educate both the mind and the heart, and we aim to nurture girls’ creativity in a dynamic, supportive and challenging environment,” Mrs Kiepe said.

“With our Christian values grounded in care, and a range of curricular and co-curricular IT based subjects available throughout the Junior, Middle and Senior School, we work hard to ensure our students graduate with strong digital literacy skills,” she said.

Always searching for meaningful and interesting ways to embed Information Communication Technology (ICT) skills into learning programs, teachers at Somerville House believe students should be learning digital literacy skills beyond their dedicated Digital Design and Technologies lessons. This includes teaching students from Prep to Year 2 how to use devices such as the keyboard and mouse, through to publishing work using Microsoft Word. From Years 3 to 12, all students are provided with a personal computer through the laptop program and have access to a brand new state-of-the-art IT help centre for maintenance and support. Students are also offered a range of technology-focused school holiday workshops and camps including Junior Engineers where students use Arduino robots to build and program their own hand-held game console and learn to code it.

These meaningful ways of building digital literacy skills into the curriculum assist our Junior School students in preparation for the Middle School Digital Design and Technologies program. Head of Digital Design and Technology, Mr Paul Herring spoke of how the Middle School program develops digital literacy and introduces students to an extensive and varied range of digital and design products, applications and approaches.

“The program is designed to complement and extend the use of Digital Technologies by the students in a dedicated lesson,” Mr Herring said.

“It includes many aspects of Robotics such as the use of Spheros, 3D printing, graphic, web and video design, utilising a number of Adobe products,” he said.

“Students also learn how to use and code drones, explore Algorithmic Programming, computer animation and utilise augmented and virtual reality apps.”

Entering into the Senior School, students from Year 10 explore Information Communication and Technology as a subject, allowing them to take the skills and experiences from their Middle School Digital Design and Technologies program and apply them to gain a greater appreciation and understanding of how technology works.

When it comes to Years 11 and 12, Information Processing and Technology (IPT) is offered as a service subject to other disciplines where students can learn further techniques to complement their other subjects. The topic of social and ethical issues is also integrated, and students analyse how particular technological changes have impacted the way people live. The IPT course serves as valuable preparation for students who are looking to enter IT and Engineering courses at University or TAFE.

Building digital literacy and creativity does not end in the classroom, Somerville House also offers a Co-Curricular Robotics Club to students from Years 5 to 11. Robotics is one of the more popular activities available within the School’s Cultural and Community Co-Curricular program. Participation in Robotics has grown fourfold since 2016, making the Somerville House Robotics Program the largest by number of any girls’ school in Australia in 2018 (according to RoboCup Junior Australia). Robotics enables students to consolidate the elements of 21st-century skills such as algorithmic thinking, creativity, computer programming, problem-solving skills and teamwork in a fun and supportive environment.

Old Girl (2017) and Co-ordinator of Coaches for the Robotics Club, Ms Margaux Edwards, spoke of how having Robotics as an extra-curricular option at Somerville House inspired her to go on to study a Bachelor of Engineering, specialising in Mechatronics and Robotics.

“I studied IPT as a Middle School subject, which is now Digital Design and Technology, and part of that unit was looking at robotics for the first time,” Margaux said.

“IPT allowed me to learn basic programming and theory, which I find has helped me a lot at university as I can look at a piece of programming or code and understand it,” she said.

“We also had the chance to participate in the RoboCup competition, which was part of the curriculum.”

“My first robot was very much built with instructions, but to be able to program it myself and have the freedom and encouragement to build whatever I wanted to was amazing,” Margaux said.

Principal, Mrs Kim Kiepe, is confident the School is at the forefront of developing the necessary digital and interpersonal skills students need to make meaningful contributions to the future workforce.

“I believe the opportunities provided at Somerville House prepare our students for the technological and transformative world they will enter upon graduating,” Mrs Kiepe said.

For more information on any of the subjects listed or to find out about the many academic and co-curricular opportunities for your daughter at Somerville House, please visit www.somerville.qld.edu.au/enrolments