The Importance of Transferable Skills in the Curriculum
Today’s graduates will enter a world that is more competitive, more globally connected, and more technologically engaged than it has been in any other period of history. Over the course of the next decade, millions of young Canadians will enter a workforce that is dramatically different from the one we know today. With the growing automation of jobs, extraordinary technological advancements, and the realities of a global economy, students will need to be prepared for job flexibility, frequent career re-orientation, and work and civic life in a globalized, digital age. Equipping students with transferable skills and a desire for lifelong learning will help to prepare them for these new realities, and to navigate and shape their future successfully.
Transferable skills are the skills and attributes that students need in order to thrive in the modern world. Based on international research, information provided by employers, and its work with jurisdictions across Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Education has defined seven important categories of transferable skills – sometimes referred to as “competencies” – that will help students navigate the world of work and meet with success in the future:
- critical thinking and problem solving
- innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship
- self-directed learning
- global citizenship and sustainability
- digital literacy
These seven broad categories of skills, necessary in today’s rapidly changing world, can be seen as a framework encompassing the wide range of discrete transferable skills that students acquire over time. Developing transferable skills essentially means “learning for transfer” – that is, taking what is learned in one situation and applying it to other, new situations. Students in Ontario schools “learn for transfer” in all of the subjects and disciplines of the Ontario curriculum, from Kindergarten to Grade 12. In fact, in every grade and subject, their learning is assessed, in part, in terms of their ability to apply or transfer what they have learned to familiar and new contexts (see the category “Application” in the Sample Achievement Charts). The curriculum provides opportunities for students to develop transferable skills in age- and grade-appropriate ways throughout their school years. Students develop transferable skills not in isolation but as part of their learning in all subjects of the curriculum. These skills are developed through students’ cognitive, social, emotional, and physical engagement in learning. Educators facilitate students’ development of transferable skills explicitly through a variety of teaching and learning methods, models, and approaches, and assessment practices, in a safe, inclusive, and equitable learning environment.