Trends in the education industry to look out for in 2021

Covid-19 has undeniably changed the world of education. From elementary and secondary schools to colleges and universities, the industry is constantly evolving. 

With the sudden shift away from the classroom, teaching and learning approach changed dramatically at an unprecedented speed, and the education technology (EdTech) was forced to up its game quickly. Even before Covid-19, there was already high growth and adoption in education technology. Whether it is language apps, virtual tutoring, video conferencing tools, or online learning software, there has been a significant surge in usage since the pandemic started and industry leaders suggest that the changes Covid-19 has caused for the education industry might be here to stay.

The changes in the classroom of the future aren’t happening in a faraway time, the truth is, it is happening right now at a lighting speed. There will be even more changes in the future. 

Ozhan Toktas, Managing Director at Pearson Middle East and Africa shares some insights on the road towards studying after COVID-19.

The rise of online learning

The pandemic has accelerated digital disruption in Dh246-billion education sector of the GCC region. EdTech is growing at 16.3 per cent and will grow 2.5 times from 2019 to 2025, reaching $404 billion in total global expenditure. Technology has made it extremely easy for everyone to stay connected. It has bridged the gap between teachers and students and made the whole learning approach a collaborative one. The benefits of this model of learning far exceed the traditional one. The use of digital materials supplemented with AR/VR software in the classroom, the use of a learning management system, classroom management tools designed to keep students on task, limit distractions and improve concentration on course material are all benefits that accompany the implementation of education software tools.

For 2021, we believe mLearning and eLearning will further grow in popularity as it helps students learn at their own pace and time and is proven to be a convenient method of delivering as well as receiving the education. One of the main reasons for the adoption of this type of learning is the fit with current pedagogical and standards, namely the move from teacher-led to student-led learning. In this approach, when students team up together to work on a project or solve a problem, it helps build their collaborative skills; the constant interaction between teachers and students or with their peers helps develop their interpersonal skills.

According to the Global Learner Survey 2020, 88% of individuals worldwide believe that education should take advantage of technology to maximize the learning experience for students of all ages.

Bringing technology into the classroom will create an interactive environment where students are entirely involved in their learning process, which has become a priority for many schools and universities.

Nano degrees as the New Must

In the corporate world, an exploratory study conducted recently on the skills gap in the market revealed 75% of HR professionals report difficulty recruiting in the past 12 months due to skills gap in job candidates. 52% of them say the skills shortage has worsened in the past 2 years, with the gap being most visible in the trades, middle-skilled jobs and high-skilled STEM jobs. Moreover, the skills gap is bound to leave a damaging impact on the economy over the next decade.

On the other hand, 1 in 5 workers says their professional skills are not up to date. To address this gap, business leaders are now looking to invest in skills planning which ensures the skills align with the needs of the workforce. 

Nanodegrees, the content of which is in line with the requirements of large multinationals, HR heads and market specialists are set to revolutionize the world of training and access to cutting-edge jobs on a global scale. These 6-12-month extended programs done in collaboration with renowned education partners will allow individuals to build deep enough skillset in a specific area in order to be able to successfully find jobs.

Nanodegree courses isn’t just a new trend to follow because it is cool, the certificate at the end of the course will attest an individual’s new knowledge and practical skills and will be a valuable asset on the CV. 

Career focused skills

For generations, we have spent the first third of our lives acquiring the college degrees we need to find jobs, which implied that the nature of our work, along with the skills and knowledge required to execute it, remains unchanged for a lifetime – which of course is no longer true. Hard facts and skills of most of the disciplines are changing as technology ripples through the economy and society.

Today’s generation is inclined to have many jobs and careers through their professional lives, perhaps even at the same time, with the maturing of the gig economy. The soft skills of creative thinking, critical thinking, communication, and leadership do not go out of date and remain in demand by employers. The combination of basic knowledge and skills may not require a degree. The future of work will not be about college degrees; it will be about job skills. The time is now to shift our focus from degrees to skills to enable a bigger workforce that represents the diversity of our populations and will help close the all too familiar opportunity and employment gaps.

Demand for international higher education will continue to grow 

The global demand for international study would continue along the existing trajectory of about 6 per cent growth per year. Some of the most attractive study destinations would include Australia, Canada, New Zealand and US. 

Despite the fact that countries closed their borders to contain the spread of COVID-19, 74% students are still nurturing their dream to study in a foreign country. The growth in study abroad participation is being fuelled by the growth in short-term programming. The demand for studying STEM fields is estimated to make up the largest group of students studying abroad by field, followed by business, social science, foreign languages and international studies, and fine and applied arts. 

It has been witnessed from the past models that student mobility has proven surprisingly resilient to shocks, such as the global financial crisis or commodity crashes. In fact, in some cases, and for some groups of students, participation in higher education courses increases at times of economic downturn as individuals see the slowdown in the job market as an opportunity to gain new qualifications.

One of the essential requirements for students to study abroad is a valid score card of an accepted English Proficiency Test. Online testing and proctoring for these tests has surged during the coronavirus pandemic, helping both students and education providers during this period of disruption by encouraging students to continue with their aspiration to study abroad and for the universities to continue accepting applications for degree programs.

Upskilling, Reskilling and Preparing for the Future

Since the industrial revolution in the 19th century, technologies have been changing, growing and adapting at an ever-increasing rate. The World Economic Forum’s 2018 Future of Jobs Report predicts that by 2022, 75 million jobs across 20 major economies will be displaced by emerging technologies. The same report highlights that 133 million new roles are expected to be created by these very same technological advances.

With employees looking for a sharp growth curve and organizations facing continuous change triggered by ongoing digital transformation, it’s important for companies to rethink learning and development in the workplace.

In the near future, we will be looking at upskilling and reskilling from a dual perspective, on the one hand, as business models change and technology gains more prominence, employees with both hard and soft skills can steer organizational success in the right direction while on the other hand learning opportunities and on-the-job coaching for career development will become a significant need for the future workforce and an employer branding advantage.