The future is education - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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The future is education

Today's students are tomorrow's leaders – which means a teacher's impact can extend far beyond the classroom.
Think about a career that’s focused on the future. What comes to mind?

A technologist, maybe, or a physicist or entrepreneur. But what about… a teacher?

It might not seem like an obvious choice at first. But if today’s school students are tomorrow’s leaders, then there aren’t many jobs that do more to shape the future than helping young people to learn and grow.

Professor Shelley Dole, who is Head of USC’s School of Education, says that in a fast-changing world, becoming a teacher means having an impact that extends far beyond the classroom.

“When we think about the role of a teacher, it’s easy to focus on the day-to-day tasks, such as planning and delivering lessons and marking students’ work,” Professor Dole says.

“But teachers also play an important role in helping young people to understand the changing world around them, and to develop their own ideas and beliefs about the kind of future they’d like to see.

“Whether it’s in early childhood, primary school or high school, one skilled and passionate teacher can influence the lives of countless young people across their career – and those young people can then go on to make all kinds of impacts within their own communities and industries.” 

While teaching is a future-focused profession, it’s also one that’s relatively future-proof. While many industries grapple with a changing economy and the impacts of automation, Australia’s strong population growth means that the demand for skilled teachers is only set to increase, with an expected 650,000 extra school students across the country by 2026.

Earlier in 2019, the Queensland Teacher’s Union predicted that the state will need 7,000 more teachers over the next decade to meet demand, particularly in major population centres and in rural and remote Queensland.

Pre-service teachers studying at USC are well prepared for jobs in rural areas. Students are supported to complete placement at rural and remote schools, including through scholarships like the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation Rural and Remote Education Bursaries, which provide up to $2,500 to cover placement costs.

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And while technology is disrupting many industries, it’s creating new career opportunities for teachers.

“STEM jobs are growing faster than any others, which means there is a strong focus on ensuring Australia has access to enough skilled STEM workers in the future,” Professor Dole says.

“This means there is also an increasing focus on further embedding these skills into the school curriculum.

“There is already a shortage of qualified maths and science teachers in Australia, and we are likely to see the demand increase in the years to come.”

Kate Britz

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