Not surprisingly, there is a pervasive sense of cynicism among this generation who are “deeply worried about the state of the world and are fighting to reconcile their desire for change with the demands and constraints of everyday life.”
It’s not hard to understand why. For this generation, it has been one crisis after another. In June, the world witnessed the G7 Summit 2022 held in the Bavarian Alps, where world leaders struggled with issues such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the global economic crisis exacerbated by the war, vaccine equity, and climate change.
With the extent of turmoil in the world and persistent geopolitical tensions, it should come as no surprise that this generation is more exhausted than enthusiastic, more reticent than resilient, and more worried about the current state of affairs than welcoming of future possibilities.
“This mainstream acceptance of online education… is forcing institutions to consider new directions”
Even before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, findings from the Strada-Gallup 2017 College Student Survey suggested that the majority of college and university students did not feel ready to start their careers. Only a third of students at the time believed they will graduate with the skills and knowledge needed to be successful in the global job market (34%) and in the workplace (36%).
Today, these younger workers, most of whom joined the workforce during the pandemic, are simply not satisfied and according to PwC’s Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey 2022, they are concerned about future career development and not having sufficient training in digital and technology skills.
In the United States, for example, there is a noteworthy decline in the number of high school graduates willing to invest the time and money it takes to go to college.
According to Varying Degrees 2022: New America’s Sixth Annual Survey on Higher Education, an increasing majority of Americans now say that the quality of online education is the same as or better than in-person education.
This mainstream acceptance of online education, along with the driving factors associated with industry 4.0, global demographic shifts, rising inflation, and fast-moving geopolitical and social crises are having a profound impact on higher education, forcing many institutions to consider new directions and different strategies.
If light of the evidence that suggests the relationship students have with higher education is changing, particularly with regard to the efficacy of higher education to prepare students for next generation careers and to succeed in the global job market, the call to higher education is now pretty undeniable.
Effective higher education today requires that institutions reframe traditional teacher-centred pedagogies and adopt new modalities that provide this generation of students with in-demand skills that employers want along with the soft skills and intercultural competencies employees need to be successful and engaged in the world.
Today, institutions around the world are turning to responsive strategies that promote the development of applicable and in-demand skills through international learning and engagement. They are pursuing new and more inclusive modalities that enable all students, even those unable to travel abroad, to explore the international dimensions of their chosen disciplines and develop intercultural competencies needed for career readiness. Central to these modalities are those that engage students in programming that helps them to understand their world and better navigate their place in it.
“Institutions around the world are turning to responsive strategies promoting in demand skills”
Among the most innovative online program modalities, for example, are global tech, COIL, and remote internships. In Florida alone, the University of Miami has recently partnered with Podium Education to offer a series of global tech programs to enable students to develop in-demand tech skills for the modern workforce. Nearby Florida International University is leveraging Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) to engage FIU students in collaborative problem solving with their peers around the world.
The University of Florida now offers an array of virtual internship programs, in such distant locations as Argentina, South Africa and New Zealand. A leader in international internships in Asia, Next Step Connections has demonstrated that when well-designed, remote internship programs such as these provide viable and meaningful educational opportunities for a larger number and broader diversity of students. Remote internships are not a replacement for on-site internships but rather reflect an expansion of how students can now learn and engage in this new era.
Leveraging such modalities to enhance international learning and engagement represent just some of the many ways institutions can change and adapt to meet the needs of this current generation of students and better prepare them to confront continue geopolitical tension and emerging crises. Perhaps as part of a larger institutional strategy, these modalities can go a long way with supporting student learning and engagement and do so in responsive and educative ways that prepare students for greater success in an increasingly connected, if not problematic, world.
About the authors: This is a sponsored post by Anthony C. Ogden and Jérôme Le Carrou.
Anthony is founder and managing director of Gateway International Group, an organization seeking to accelerate international learning and engagement by assisting institutions and organizations around the world to succeed in a new era of higher education. For more information, www.gatewayinternational.org.
Jérôme is founder and executive director of Next Step Connections. Since 2008, NexStep has engaged, equipped and empowered students through international internships in Asia. For more information, https://nextstepconnections.com/