Re­act­ing to chang­ing job en­vi­ron­ments

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Higher Education -

IT is no se­cret that schools are fail­ing to pre­pare stu­dents to face the de­mands of the job mar­ket.

Ed­u­ca­tion sys­tems con­sis­tently over-em­pha­sise the im­por­tance of knowl­edge re­ten­tion.

They are ig­nor­ing changes in the job mar­ket that re­quire stu­dents to pos­sess a wider range of skills like team­work, prob­lem-solv­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills. As a re­sult, many leave ed­u­ca­tion ill-equipped to face the de­mands of the 21st cen­tury work­place.

Reper­cus­sions of this at­ti­tude can not only af­fect grad­u­ates seek­ing to find their way in the job mar­ket but also when ap­ply­ing to uni­ver­si­ties.

Top uni­ver­si­ties world­wide have re­alised that stu­dents with a wide va­ri­ety of skills and knowl­edge in their sub­ject are more likely to suc­ceed, both at uni­ver­sity and later in life. They adapted their ad­mis­sions pro­ce­dure in line with the goal of sourc­ing stu­dents with the kind of skills.

Many em­ploy­ers recog­nise this and have lost their trust in the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem. They have in­stead, in­tro­duced ap­ti­tude tests as part of the job ap­pli­ca­tion process. The same ap­plies to top uni­ver­si­ties – the main aim of in­ter­views is to see how stu­dents re­act when faced with un­fa­mil­iar prob­lems.

Uni­ver­sity ad­mis­sions tests iden­tify the best stu­dents as those who are adept at us­ing knowl­edge to solve real-world prob­lems.

“The world econ­omy no longer pays for what you know, but what you can do with what you know,” said Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Eco­nomic Co-op­er­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment’s (OECD) di­rec­tor for Ed­u­ca­tion and Skills An­dreas Sch­le­icher.

Still, most schools re­main stuck in an an­ti­quated cur­ricu­lum, fail­ing to adapt that to meet cur­rent needs of stu­dents, uni­ver­si­ties and em­ploy­ers. Ox­ford In­ter­na­tional Col­lege (OIC) tai­lored its teach­ings to en­sure stu­dents are as at­trac­tive to fu­ture uni­ver­si­ties and em­ploy­ers as pos­si­ble.

In their A-Lev­els classes, stu­dents are taught to look be­yond the syl­labus and dis­cover new facts, de­velop their team­work and com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills and re­search fur­ther into the sub­ject us­ing a range of dif­fer­ent re­sources.

All stu­dents re­ceive classes for uni­ver­sity ad­mis­sions tests, which show them how to use the knowl­edge learnt at A-lev­els to solve new, un­fa­mil­iar prob­lems.

Stu­dents are also given the op­por­tu­nity to com­plete an Ex­tended Pro­ject Qual­i­fi­ca­tion, and learn re­search skills, plus how to an­a­lyse and com­mu­ni­cate the in­for­ma­tion. At least four work ex­pe­ri­ence place­ments and in­dus­try com­pe­ti­tions are or­gan­ised for ev­ery stu­dent.

Stu­dents are en­cour­aged to re­flect on this ex­pe­ri­ence by a grad­u­ate stu­dent at Ox­ford Uni­ver­sity as­signed to them as their men­tor. This oc­curs via the Bridg­ing Pro­gramme, which seeks to close the gap be­tween schools, uni­ver­sity and the world of work by putting them in touch with some­one work­ing at the top level in the stu­dent’s field of in­ter­est.

All of this and more needs to be done in schools around the world to en­sure that young peo­ple are equipped to face the con­stantly evolv­ing de­mands of 21st cen­tury.

OIC be­lieves this to be a model for how schools should be run now and in the fu­ture.

■ OIC is lo­cated in Ox­ford, the UK. For more in­for­ma­tion, log on to www.ox­coll.com or write to ad­mis­sions@ox­coll.com for fur­ther in­for­ma­tion.

Ox­ford In­ter­na­tional Col­lege (OIC) tai­lors its teach­ings to en­sure stu­dents are as at­trac­tive to fu­ture uni­ver­si­ties and em­ploy­ers as pos­si­ble.

Uni­ver­sity ad­mis­sions tests iden­tify the best stu­dents as those who are adept at us­ing knowl­edge to solve real-world prob­lems.

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