29 juillet 2008

Business Responsive Education Sector in the Era of Globalisation*, through Lifelong Learning

International Trade Centre

Globalisation is making the world smaller and interdependent. Globalisation presents promising options for business, citizens and institutions. Cross-border production, international network and strategic alliances are now recognised as preconditions for growth. International competition is increasing and mobility of international labour will increase. This is also the trend on education markets – the number of students studying abroad will rise in the years to come and so will the collaborations between the national and foreign education institutions.
What are the main links between economic globalisation processes and education?**

  1. The quantity and quality of education and training determine whether and how countries can participate in the processes of globalisation – such as global value chains, fragmentation, increased trade in final products, and migration

  2. On the other side of the coin, the processes of globalisation affect the demand and supply of education and training

  3. And arising from these two, the public policies that would reconcile human resource development and processes of globalisation in order to obtain the maximum impact on development. 

Globalisation offers new opportunities for exploiting the personal potential of the individual. The ability to make a successful life in the era of globalisation will depend on the acquisition of relevant competencies – first of all through an initial education, which is to be supplemented through lifelong learning.
Growth at the national level is dependent on the private sectors’ ability to develop, maintain and attract qualified staff. As the so-called “knowledge economy” emerges, a new precondition for sustainable economic development has become evident: the ability to innovate, do research and develop – and apply the results of such processes in businesses and industries. The investments made by India and Ireland in their tertiary education sectors is an important factor in developing outsourcing businesses and retaining the competitive edge by constantly moving into high value added activities.
In the new paradigm, the content of the education is equally important. Initial education must provide a good starting point for all. After completing compulsory education students must have obtained the key competencies needed for success in their next steps into education and work life. Studies have conclusively shown that increased number of years spent in ‘schooling’ raises wages and the ability of workers to adjust to changing requirements. (Ibid)
The role and status of vocational education and training must be recognised. Vocational education and training provide new opportunities to young people with little academic aspiration. Globalisation processes should provide positive incentives to increase vocational facilities for enhancing competitiveness.
The role of tertiary education on economic globalisation processes is far more apparent. Education affects the structure of exports: the more educated and sophisticated the workforce, the more diversified are the exports. Quality of education is important for participating in knowledge intensive services exports. Availability of technical and engineering graduates is an incentive for attracting foreign direct investments.
Viewed from the perspective of globalisation of Education itself, we see that tertiary education services are increasingly traded. Countries like the US, UK, Australia control most of market but other countries are beginning to emerge as well. Foreign provision of education services is good for economic development but presents issues related to access and accreditation.
Thus, quality assurance is a precondition for a vibrant, responsible and sustainable international market for education sector. This will be for the benefit of the students – first and foremost – but certainly also for the businesses and industries that ultimately employ them.
Education reform in the era of globalisation is far more than just about funding or turning educational institutions into businesses. It is about promoting a new compact involving all stakeholders, beyond governments, teachers and students. The private sector enterprises are to be seen as important collaborators.
The following are excerpts from the observations of Thomas R. Vant, Secretary General, Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD, Business: Partners for smarter education:
When a company makes a decision to invest, one of the most important factors is the quality of the workforce. And once in business - education and training of employees remain key to competitiveness. Employees are a company’s most important assets.
Companies need to be able to respond rapidly to change in the global marketplace – this requires employees who are flexible and adaptable to demands for new skills. Firms look for young people who combine good basic training with professional and personal flexibility and scope. As a result, there will be an expanding demand for the continuing and adult education to adjust the skill requirement in constantly changing environment.
The education institutions will be required to prepare students for a future employment landscape that will be continually changing and staying ahead in the technology area. Business can help. Many companies are deeply involved in helping educational institutions with the assessment of attributes that employers will be looking for in their recruits in coming years. They consider the skills that will be in demand and the breadth of education required for different areas of work. It only makes sense for business and educational institutions to share this information, and it certainly makes sense to serve the decision-making process of students.
How can solid, interactive relationships be established involving government, educational institutions and business? How can private financing supplement public expenditure on education? These relationships, of course, take time and hard work. And we must stay with this year after year as confidence is built up in the value of putting in such efforts. While government has the primary responsibility for initial education, business needs to work with governments and educational institutions to assist in providing clear goals for education that prepares students for today’s global market. In secondary and higher education, this includes working together with schools to promote an understanding of the current state of the industry through measures such as internship programmes, teaching exchanges, provision of case materials, opportunities for company visits and engagement in career guidance. From a business perspective, instilling basic skills and competencies, using a modern curriculum and attractive teaching materials is essential.
Important issues***, which arise while discussing the globalisation – education linkages from the policy perspective, are:

  1. Economic liberalisation should be phased to go hand in hand with developments in education sector.

  2. Develop accreditation of training courses to ensure full recognition of diplomas and experience.

  3. Enhance partnerships between universities across borders.

  4. Involve private sector in planning of skills developments and create an environment for public-private collaboration for developing the education sector.

*This report is based on the discussions in the ITC– MGimo seminar on Russia’s accession to WTO: Innovative approach to the educational sector, Moscow 23-24 April 2008
**Source: Dirk Willem te Velde, Globalisation and Education; what to trade, investment and migration literatures tell us? Overseas Development Institute, London; working paper 245, August 2005
***Adapted from: Dirk Willem te Velde, Globalisation and Education; what to trade, investment and migration literatures tell us? Overseas Development Institute, London; working paper 245, August 2005

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