At its Annual Meeting in Davos, the World Economic Forum (WEF) announced that more than 350 million people are being reached by the Reskilling Revolution, its initiative that aims to empower one billion people with better education, skills and economic opportunities by 2030. Backed by over 350 organisations and with programs that include commitments from LinkedIn, Microsoft, and iamtheCODE to train millions in tech, the Reskilling Revolution is bringing the business, government and education sectors together to drive the transformation.
Long-term programmes like this are built upon the demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, also known as Industry 4.0. Data shows that in the job market, half the global labour force might need reskilling by 2025, while in schools, continuing trends will keep many students lacking in the skills needed to thrive in the future of work.
International education – currently on the rebound as countries ease their border restrictions and welcome international students – is seen to enjoy a momentum in 2023 with increasingly favourable policy and opportunities for global student mobility. In India alone, more than 1.3 million students studied abroad in 2022, with a preference for destination countries such as the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. This thriving sector will play a key role in fulfilling the promise of a reskilled workforce by the WEF’s target year. Here are three reasons why.
Business increasingly relies on a global workforce
Destination countries like Canada offer permanent residence to international students through a variety of immigration programs. This fits the intention of nearly half of the 172 UN member states in 2015 to increase high-skilled immigration, largely as a result of corporations showing that “global businesses in a global marketplace rely on a global workforce to stay competitive.”
Particularly in host countries with a liberal immigration regime, international students that eventually become highly skilled migrant workers add to the talent pool and foster diversity and innovation. Amid automation and digitalisation, however, task requirements and the necessary skills are also evolving. Employers upskill and reskill their workforce, including labour migrants, and develop international capabilities in their bid to remain competitive.
Strategic alliances facilitate reskilling on a global scale
Well within the extensive space of international education are public-private partnerships (PPPs), licensing agreements, programme pathways, and transnational education (TNE) delivery that create opportunities for students to earn career-oriented credentials that will prepare them academically. Flexible pathways offer them a unique chance to begin their studies at, or near their homes, and then work toward their credentials at their preferred degree-granting institutions abroad.
The strategic alliances that fuel these study opportunities for students worldwide enable a recognition system for skills and credentials across educational institutions, countries, and industries much easier to develop and adopt at a global scale. The collaboration happening on a local, regional, or global level helps enhance knowledge production, skills development as well as the diffusion of innovation, benefitting industries whether technology, traditional maths and sciences, or the liberal arts.
Study abroad promotes skills fit for the jobs of the future
To create the environment required to foster Education 4.0 (including sustainable mechanisms for upskilling and reskilling) and in turn Industry 4.0, problem-solving, collaboration, and adaptability are three critical skills that must be imparted to students.
Take adaptability, for instance. In an Australian study on students’ responses to uncertainty, novelty and change for the last decade, learning to adapt required cognitive, behavioural and affective (emotional) adjustments that involved developing resilience, buoyancy as well as self-regulation.
Prospective international students get on a journey that entails adapting to a new culture, new academic system, and being outside of their comfort zone at a young age. Studying and living overseas means adjusting and modifying their skills and behaviours, which enables an adaptable mindset they will carry throughout their work life or academic progression.
In driving the Reskilling Revolution forward and reimagining the future of work, mobility among the world’s curious learners will play a key role. Making education accessible to students no matter where they come from not only fulfils individual aspirations but also determines the success of a global economy that is heavily reliant on the quality of its global talent.